Forget Grace Poe? Drilon wants LP to begin VP search

Bea Cupin
Forget Grace Poe? Drilon wants LP to begin VP search
'In my view, Senator Poe is already a candidate for president. The writings are on the wall,' says Senate President Franklin Drilon, who is Liberal Party vice chairman

MANILA, Philippines – The vice chairman of the ruling Liberal Party (LP) thinks it’s about time they move on from the very public wooing of survey front runner Senator Grace Poe to be the party’s vice presidential bet.

“I will ask the LP National Executive Council (NECO) to convene as soon as possible in order to nominate and approve our vice presidential candidate for 2016, [the] running mate of Secrtary Mar Roxas,” Senate Pesident and LP vice chairman Franklin Drilon told reporters in a chance interview on Friday, September 4.

For Drilon, the answer to whether Poe will say “yes” to running as the ruling party’s vice president or eye the presidency herself is clear.

“In my view, Senator Grace Poe is already a candidate for president. The writings are on the wall,” added the senator, who said he would be asking Transportation Secretary and LP acting president Joseph Emilion Abaya to convene the council.

No less than the LP’s chairman, President Benigno Aquino III himself, led efforts to convince Poe to run as Roxas’ vice president. Aquino met with Poe and her close friend and ally, Senator Chiz Escudero, at least 4 times the past several months in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential elections.

Roxas and Poe last met in mid-August, sparking hopes of a Roxas-Poe tandem for the LP. Having Poe as a running mate goes beyond eliminating competition for Roxas.

A Poe candidacy threatens to rip apart a broad LP-led coalition that counts the Nacionalista Party (NP), the Nationalist People’s Coalition, and the National Unity Party, among others, as members. (READ: Grace Poe could propel NPC as PH’s biggest political party)

But Poe’s interviews and public engagements hint at a 2016 presidential campaign. (WATCH: Grace Poe talks about platform in Cebu)

“[Senator Poe] has been going around, making speeches to various schools and organizations. Hindi naman gagawin iyan kung hindi ka kandidato. Hindi madaling mag-ikot,” said Drilon, when asked what convinced him of Poe’s 2016 presidential plans. (She wouldn’t do that if she wasn’t running. It’s not easy to go around.)

Drilon, however, admitted Poe hasn’t spoken to him about her plans.

“The deadline is getting nearer. Mas mabuti na makapaghanda na dahil ang dating nililigawan ay ngayon ay kandidato na sa pagkapangulo,” said Drilon. (It’s best the LP starts preparing because the person we’ve been wooing will now be running for president.)

Gov Vi, Leni, Trillanes, Cayetano?

The Senate President named 4 “viable” vice presidential candidates for the LP ticket: Batangas Governor Vilma Santos, Camarines Sur Representative Leni Robredo, and senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Antonio Trillanes IV.

Both Santos and Robredo have shot down the idea of running for vice president, both saying they would rather continue serving their localities. Robredo had said she is open to running for senator, but admitted her awareness among voters was still low.

Having either Cayetano and Trillanes, Drilon said, would also “necessitate” a coalition between the LP and their party, the NP. The party, however, is inclined to declare a “free zone” should 3 of its members – Cayetano, Trillanes, and Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr – all run for vice president.

A “free zone” means the NP leadership will allow its members to choose whoever they want to support in 2016. Trillanes, however, had earlier announced his Magdalo group would be supporting Poe in 2016, should she decide to run. 

Drilon said in earlier interviews that it would be up to Roxas to pick his running mate. But it’s time to move, said Drilon, since the “deadline” is drawing near.

The filing of candidacies, after all, is set in mid-October.

“It’s time we held Secretary Roxas complete the ticket. Based on the LP’s constitution, it’s the NECO that nominates. Of course, we will consult Secretary Roxas,” said Drilon.

Roxas earlier said that while the invitation for Poe to be his running mate was still standing, he had the “responsibility” as the administration bet to form a “strong” ticket for 2016. Looking for a vice president, Roxas said in a previous interview, is among the most important decisions for a presidential bet.

The administration standard-bearer, whose campaign is rooted in the idea of continuity, said he wants a running mate who firmly believes in “Daang Matuwid (Straight Path)” the current administration’s tagline for its transparency, anti-corruption, and good governance platform. –

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.