Roxas should consider getting another VP bet – Speaker

Aurea Calica - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The ruling Liberal Party (LP) must be realistic in finding a vice presidential candidate as Sen. Grace Poe seems determined to run for president in 2016, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said yesterday.

Belmonte also told reporters that LP’s presidential bet, Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II, should consider getting another running mate like Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano of the Nacionalista Party (NP).

“Let’s get the bravest senator,” Belmonte said, referring to Cayetano.

The Speaker also said that Roxas should start presenting his own vision for the country aside from the continuity of programs of the Aquino administration and wooing a running mate.

Roxas earlier said the lines of communication with Poe remained open and that there was no rift between them despite the senator’s pronouncement that some members of LP were hitting her.

Belmonte, who attended the inauguration of the Sen. Neptali Gonzales Academic Hall at the Rizal Technological University in Mandaluyong City led by President Aquino, observed that Poe was continuously preparing for her presidential run.

But the President is still hoping for Poe to become part of the LP because “he loves Grace, he likes her.”

“(Aquino) saw the experience and achievements of Mar. With the popularity of Grace (and) being a fresh face, they will complement one another,” Belmonte added.

Poe in polluted politics

For Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) secretary-general and Batangas Rep. Mark Llandro Mendoza, Poe is “a breath of fresh air in the polluted world of politics.”

He pointed out that Poe prefers talking about issues instead of criticizing potential presidential rivals.

He also noted that Poe is attracting more supporters though she is not yet a declared candidate.

“You could see how students in the University of San Carlos in Cebu City reacted to Senator Grace when she spoke. That was not a hakot crowd (people who are required to attend a gathering). They were there because they wanted to see her. She exuded genuine warmth that cannot be faked,” he said.

“This is why the students received her so warmly in Cebu. This is why many of my fellow NPC members are drawn to her. They feel she is what our country needs, someone who can inspire our people, someone who can give our people hope,” he added.

Poe remains coy about her plans for the 2016 elections. President Aquino and his preferred successor Roxas have been courting Poe to be the outgoing interior secretary’s vice presidential running mate.

In Cebu this week with Roxas, Aquino said the door is still open for Poe. He also indicated that the vice presidency would give Poe more experience that would prepare her for seeking the highest office in 2022.

The President said he would like Filipinos to have 18 years of continuous economic growth and daang matuwid (straight path).

Poe has not rejected Aquino’s offer to be Roxas’ running mate. However, she is believed to have set her mind on the presidency and has been going around the country.

However, she is facing citizenship and residency cases before the Senate Electoral Tribunal and the Commission on Elections.

Some legal experts claim that Poe, having renounced her being a Filipino by obtaining American citizenship and living in the United States for many years before returning to the country to be a Filipino again, is not considered a “natural-born Filipino citizen,” a constitutional requirement for the presidency.

Poe has announced that if she runs for president, she would draft Sen. Francis Escudero as her vice presidential candidate.

The two senators have met with NPC members twice this month, while Roxas had a breakfast chat with a group of 11 NPC lawmakers led by Mendoza.

Mendoza said Poe and Escudero would be a perfect tandem.

“Chiz has always been constructive. In Senate hearings, you notice that he is never personal; he attacks problems, not people. He focuses on finding answers and solutions, not fault,” he said. – With Jess Diaz

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