Female president? Not I, says Grace Poe

Ayee Macaraig

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The experience of her father, the late actor Fernando Poe Jr, in the 2004 presidential campaign discourages her from seeking higher office

PRESIDENT POE? Senator Grace Poe says Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, not she, is the woman most qualified to run for president in 2016. File photo from Senate PRIB

MANILA, Philippines – The declaration of Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago that the Philippines should have a female president in 2016 again turned the focus on Senator Grace Poe.

For the political neophyte and 2013 senatorial frontrunner, however, the presidency is more a fear than an ambition.

Poe said Santiago’s remark was meant for Women’s Month and should not be seen as a reference to her. Yet her colleagues including, Senator Cynthia Villar, said the comment could only be about Poe.

In response, Poe said, “Nagpapasahan kami kasi walang gustong maging iyon, dahil pag ikaw iyon, mas marami kang magiging problema. Ang dami ko pang kailangang patunayan eh. Isa pa lang ang napapasa kong bill.

(We are just pointing to each other because no one wants to be president, because if you are president, you have many problems. I have so much more to prove. I have only passed one bill.)

The senator was referring to the freedom of information (FOI) bill, which she sponsored and the Senate passed on Monday, March 10. Netizens commended Poe for the passage of the measure, which journalists and transparency advocates have been lobbying for in more than a decade.

Yet Poe again said she is not ready to be president and has no plans of running. She reiterated that the experience of her father, the late actor Fernando Poe Jr, in the 2004 presidential campaign discouraged her from seeking higher office.

Binabalik ko ang masamang puntong, masamang karanasan na, pinagdaanan ng tatay ko. Parang lahat ng tao sa paligid mo, sasabihin ‘Ikaw na lang.’ Pag sumubok ka na, paglingon mo, ilan na lang mga kasama mo sa likod. May takot talaga. Di ko inaambisyon. Sa akin, bonus na nga nakaupo ako dito,” Poe told reporters at the Senate on Tuesday, March 11.

(I go back to the sad point, sad experience, that my father had. Everyone will say you be the one to run. When you try it out and look behind you, there are only a few people left supporting you. I really have a fear. It’s not my ambition. To me, being a senator here is already a bonus.) 

Poe said Santiago is the female leader who is most qualified to run for president. She said the 6 female senators are all doing their best, and there are other women in government who have proven their mettle.

“It’s to highlight the importance of women in society, their capabilities. We’ve seen in recent hearings that we’ve had women – Grace Pulido Tan, Leila de Lima, Justice Conchita Carpio Morales – who are very active in this crusade for transparent and clean government, so certainly, women should not be discounted even if we had a sad experience in the recent past of having a woman-leader,” Poe said in reference to former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who allegedly cheated her father in the 2004 elections.

Senator Jinggoy Estrada cited the same argument in responding to Santiago’s point that research showed that women leaders were proven to cause “positive developments in education, infrastructure and health care.”

Estrada quipped, “Under Gloria umangat ba tayo?” (Did we progress under Gloria?)

He added: “Politics is a male-dominated arena. But now, we have more women in the Senate. It means people are recognizing the achievements of our women.”

Trillanes preparing for VP bid?

Santiago’s comment fuelled more talk of the 2016 polls. Senator Antonio Trillanes IV told reporters that the Nacionalista Party (NP) of former Senator Manny Villar had a dinner Monday night where they talked about politics.

The party’s secretary-general, Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano, already announced his presidential ambitions.

Asked if he will be Cayetano’s running mate, Trillanes said: “Nothing sure at this point. It’s all purely exploratory. We are in the process where we are studying what’s good for the country, what’s good for the party. The decision point is December this year. We will reach that. The right time to announce will come. I don’t see that now is the time.”

Yet Trillanes said he is already preparing. “There are different levels. Academically, I’ve been studying. Of course, emotionally you should see what’s down the road. Organizationally, there are different levels.” 

He said there are still many factors to consider in declaring Cayetano the party’s standard bearer. “Of course if the writing is on the wall and people don’t receive you well, then that will change. But if people are receptive, ultimately we go with the people.”

Villar’s wife, Senator Cynthia Villar, made a similar statement about Cayetano. “He said he is offering himself to see if people want him. We will see at the end of the year.”

Cayetano has been saying that a key factor in his political plans is if the NP will again team up with the ruling Liberal Party (LP) in 2016 as they did in the 2013 polls.

Villar said there is no discussion on this yet. “To us, it’s not out of the question. It depends what will happen. It’s too far. Many things can still happen between now and 2016. He didn’t say it’s a certainty. He said it’s possible so it’s still a possibility.”

Asked if her husband, who lost in the 2010 presidential elections, will seek the highest post again, Villar said: “Hindi naman nakibo si Manny, kayo naman ginagawan ninyo ng istorya. Nagtatrabaho lang ’yung tao. It’s too early ngayon for him. He’s working. (Manny is not saying anything, and you’re making these speculations. He’s just working. It’s too early for him [to talk elections] now. He’s working.) 

Mar-Drilon for LP?

Senate President Franklin Drilon, the LP’s 2013 campaign manager and a party stalwart, reiterated that the administration is not yet talking about the polls because it believes that “the best politics is to do your job.”

“Of course, certainly, we will await the view of the President as he is the chairman of our party. He is the honorary chairman of our party and certainly his views will be very weighty on this one,” Drilon said.

In an interview with radio DZRH, Drilon was asked about the possibility that he will be the running mate of LP president (on leave) Interior Secretary Mar Roxas to form a Mar-Drilon tandem.

“Susmaryosep! Anong kombinasyon? Saan po gagawin? Hindi po siguro sa karera sa kabayo?” (Oh my God! What combination? Where will that be? Isn’t it likely that will be a combination for a horse race?) – Rappler.com


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