Aquino: Admin’s 2016 senatorial slate almost full

MANILA, Philippines – As the 2016 polls near, President Benigno Aquino III admitted he has been in talks with individuals who he believes can continue the reforms of his administration – including possible senatorial candidates.

In an interview on Bombo Radyo aired on Thursday, May 14, Aquino said that to his surprise, he was told that there were only about two slots left in the administration's senatorial slate.

“On my list, there are many openings still but the number of people applying for these openings are about 5 times more than that,” he said.

A full senatorial slate has 12 slots.

Aquino however, refused to give any names.

"The probles is if I mention any now, those that won't be mentioned will call me from today until election day," he joked.

Responding to questions, Aquino also said “talks are still ongoing” to finalize endorsements.

During his state visit to Canada last week, the President admitted to Philippine media that he is in talks with Senator Grace Poe, the neophyte lawmaker who topped in the 2013 senatorial race and is rating high in surveys, as a possible administration candidate in 2016.

He again explained why the ruling party approached Poe.

“We believe she has the right views, or is going in the right direction.
It’s important for me to maintain the coalition with the same results as 2013,” he said.

Aquino added: “We don’t want to waste all we’ve worked hard for, the tears, sweat and blood, [we want] to continue the reforms…and make them permanent beyond 6 years. We are hoping she is one of those who will continue and can continue.”

Aquino has yet to disclose what position they are eyeing for Poe, but said that aside from the senator there are talks with other possible candidates as well, since many are “coming forward to say they are interested in the position.”

Poe is reportedly being tapped to be the running mate of Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II, the presumed standard bearer of the ruling Liberal Party. Aquino has said he will announce his preferred successor in June.

In the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) voters' preference survey on potential presidential candidates, Poe is in a "statistical tie" with Vice President Jejomar Binay, at 31% and 36%, respectively. In that survey, Roxas is tied with Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte for 3rd place with 15%. Poe is also the top choice for vice president.

Aquino said that come 2016, he could see candidates all trying to side with his administration and tell voters they will continue his reforms, but expressed confidence in the Filipino people's discernment.

“[The question is] who is the most believable person who can continue all we’ve done in this administration,” he said. – Rappler.com