One year after loss, life goes on for Grace Poe at the Senate
MANILA, Philippines – Exactly a year after the May 2016 presidential elections, Senator Grace Poe continues her work at the Senate, the place that helped her gain national prominence leading up to her candidacy.
On Tuesday, May 9, Poe conducted a hearing on the proposal to extend the validity of the driver's license from 3 to 5 years. It was the same committee – Senate committee on public services – that made her popular in 2014, when she rode the Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT3) without fanfare.
Poe is again focusing on MRT affairs, as she is set to open a probe into the "unusable" trains worth P3.8 billion which the government ordered from a Chinese train manufacturer.
Aside from the public services panel, Poe also chairs the Senate committee on public information and mass media, which spearheaded the passage of the Freedom of Information bill.
Asked by Rappler how she is exactly a year after the polls, Poe refused to comment, only saying, "In another time."
The elections had been unforgiving to Poe, a foundling, as she had to face legal questions over her residency and citizenship all the way to the Supreme Court – the decisions to which could have denied her even her Senate seat. Fortunately for her, she was declared a natural-born Filipino, but questions about her loyalty lingered until the end of the campaign.
It was also challenging for her husband and children, who were all dragged into the controversy. Has Poe already forgotten about or forgiven the people and groups she linked to the issues against her?
Nowadays, Poe keeps a relatively low profile, which may perhaps be welcome as she lamented about her lack of privacy during the campaign.
She now has more time for her family and friends, even accompanying her eldest son Brian to the United States to look for a graduate school.
First meeting with Duterte
In politics, as in life, there are no permanent enemies. Poe is now part of the majority bloc, allied with President Rodrigo Duterte. She, however, opposes the death penalty bill, one of Duterte's priority measures.
Before Duterte's rise in surveys, Poe had been the front runner until around March 2016 when the former Davao City mayor overtook her spot.
In an apparent reminder of the new reality, Poe and Duterte met for the first time after the elections in Malacañang just last March.
"I think I've proven to be a principled ally of whoever has the right intentions for the country. It depends. Masaya naman, very light. Matagal na kami magkakilala, so kumportable. Masasabi ko'ng magaan, masaya ang kuwentuhan," Poe said then.
(I think I've proven to be a principled ally of whoever has the right intentions for the country. It depends. It was happy, and very light. We have known each other for a long time, so it was comfortable. I can say it was a light and happy conversation.)
Prior to this, the last time they talked was on the night of the May 9 elections, when the senator personally called up Duterte to congratulate him ahead of her concession speech. It was Poe, among all presidential bets, who first conceded to Duterte.
Poe is still eligible for reelection in 2019. With little to no controversy against her so far, a second term is not far-fetched.
But it remains to be seen if she would run under the administration's slate – with the President still enjoying high ratings – or, like in 2016, distance herself from Duterte and carve her own path. – Rappler.com