MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The first tandem to declare a bid for the 2016 elections officially sealed the deal, as neophyte Senator Grace Poe and Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero filed their certificates of candidacy at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in Manila on Thursday, October 15.
Both clad in white, the two were accompanied by their respective family members. Poe was with her mother, actress Susan Roces, while Escudero was accompanied by his wife, actress Heart Evangelista.
Hundreds of supporters from various groups, including Filipinos for Peace, Justice and Progress Movement (FPJPM) and the Great People’s Movement for Progress (GPMP) massed outside the Comelec office as their candidates filed their respective COCs.
Now that everything is official, Escudero and Poe said they are ready to hit the campaign trail.
“Syempre dahil kailangan maparating ang ating pakay at mensahe sa ating mga kababayan, katatapos lang namin kausapin mga sasama sa senatorial slate. Tuloy-tuloy na po ito ang ating pag-iikot,” Poe said in an interview with reporters after the filing.
In her CoC, Poe submitted documents reiterating her renunciation of US citizenship twice – in 2010 and 2012. (READ: Timeline: Grace Poe’s citizenship, residency)
Running as independents, Poe and Escudero are eyeing a senatorial slate that would likely be composed of politicians from different political parties. Poe said after she filed her candidacy that their slate is already complete but refused to name names. She said they would be officially announced next week, as two of them have yet to file their CoCs on Friday, October 16.
Some of them include the following candidates who have already filed their COCs:
- Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, a Liberal Party member who is part of the administration Senate slate. Poe earlier said Recto would be a good addition to their senatorial slate because of his expertise in budget and finance.
- Former Senator Panfilo Lacson, who is part of the LP slate, admitted to Rappler that Poe met with him twice to “offer to adopt [him] in her senatorial slate.” Lacson told Rappler in a text message that he considered it “a huge privilege, if not an honor to be adopted by the current leading aspirant for the presidency.”
- TESDA chief Joel Villanueva told Rappler he is “hoping” he would still be adopted by the Poe-Escudero tandem.Villanueva, who earlier said he will not run under the LP banner because of former Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, will still be part of the ruling party’s senatorial slate.
- Although a member of the ruling LP, Pasig Representative Roman Romulo is not part of the administration slate and is fully supporting the candidacy of Poe. He was also present in Poe’s last meeting with the NPC and in Poe’s visits to Nueva Ecija, Dumaguete, and Roxas City.
- Senator Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, a member of the Nationalist People’s Coalition, the party being wooed by the tandem. While he earlier expressed support for the Poe-Escudero tandem, the entry of Senator Gregorio Honasan in the vice presidential race may change his decision. After all, he said he would support the latter, his long-time best friend.
- Valenzuela Representative Sherwin Gatchalian, who was present in Poe’s last meeting with the NPC.
- Former Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, who resigned from the Senate in 2011 following allegations of electoral fraud. When he filed his COC, he said he is running as a guest candidate of Poe and Escudero.
- Bayan Muna party-list Representative Neri Colmenares, whose declaration was attended by by the tandem.
- Lawyer Lorna Kapunan, who filed her COC Thursday morning and said she is running under the Poe-Escudero senatorial slate.
- Vice Mayor Isko Moreno, who filed his COC Friday. His announcement same day was attended by both Poe and Escudero.