Toots Ople replaces Ping Lacson on Poe Senate slate?

Toots Ople replaces Ping Lacson on Poe Senate slate?
Actor and former vice mayor Edu Manzano says he is not the reason former Senator Lacson was dropped from Grace Poe's senatorial lineup

MANILA, Philippines – Contrary to earlier reports, migrant workers’ advocate Susan “Toots” Ople – not actor and former vice mayor Edu Manzano – would replace former Senator Panfilo Lacson in the senatorial lineup of Grace Poe and Francis Escudero.

Lacson earlier admitted being dropped from the Poe-Escudero slate to give way to Manzano.

“Medyo blurred, parang na-awkward-an siya (Poe), parang di nya alam paano sisimulan. Sabi nya, ‘Kasi gustong magpatulong ni Edu Manzano, gusto magpa-endorse.’ Sinabi rin nya na ‘Kayo naman maski naman ano samahan ‘nyo, maski di namin kayo kasama, mananalo kayo,'” Lacson said, recounting his phone conversation with Poe last Friday, October 23.

(Kind of blurred, looks like she felt awkward as she did not know how to start telling me. She said, “Edu Manzano is asking for help, he asks to be endorsed.” She also said, “Whichever party you join, even if we are not together, you would still win.”)

Lacson, citing Poe, said entertainment company VIVA asked for Poe’s help for Manzano’s senatorial bid. Manzano’s talent manager, June Rufino, is an officer of Viva Entertainment.

But the actor denied this, saying he is not Lacson’s replacement. He told Rappler he already knew he was part of the slate “more than a month ago.”

Lacson, meanwhile, said he met with Poe and husband Neil Llamanzares in their Quezon City home on August 31, and with Poe and Senator Vicente Sotto III in September.

“Yes I am [on their slate]. I have been for quite a while. Senator Lacson may have been misinformed,” Manzano said in a text message.

Manzano further said when he was brought on board in September, “there were still 2 slots remaining.”

Two officials inside Poe’s camp have supported Manzano’s claim that he had been part of the original slate.

While Lacson said Poe’s invitation is a “privilege” that could be taken back anytime, he said his only issue was his sudden withdrawal from the lineup.

Doon lang ako may issue. Although privilege lang naman ‘yun, inimbita ‘nyo ako tapos idi-disinvite ‘nyo ako,” he said.

(That’s my only issue. Although that’s just a privilege, you invited me and then you suddenly disinvite me.)

Asked why her and Manzano’s versions are different, Poe said she would explain it on Thursday, October 29, when she announces her complete slate at Club Filipino in San Juan City.

Toots Ople

On Saturday evening, October 24, or a day after Poe informed Lacson of his exclusion, Poe called Ople and invited her to be part of her slate, said a high-ranking source from the opposition.

Ople, through a text message, then reportedly sought permission and eventually got approval from officials of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), where she was first announced as a guest candidate.

Ople supposedly told UNA that her inclusion in the Poe-Escudero slate would increase people’s “awareness” of her.

UNA president Toby Tiangco neither confirmed nor denied this, but said the party does not impose “campaign conditions” on their guest candidates.

Asked if Ople’s inclusion in the Poe slate is final, Sotto, Poe’s ally and also included in the lineup, said “I am told.” 

Ople, for her part, refused to comment on the matter, saying the announcement should come from Poe and Escudero.

Guest candidates

Unlike Lacson, Poe said she was a struggling senatorial bet when she was adopted by the administration coalition in 2013.

“Noong ako kasi ay tumakbo noon, malayo rin naman ako sa survey, pero nabigyan naman ng pagkakataon ng administrasyon. Eh ito? Hindi naman siya magkukulang din at saka noong nag-usap kasi kami sinabi ni Senator Ping na hindi pa niya alam ang mechanics ng pagsama niya sa amin sa kampanya. Eh may mga ibang tao naman na willing at mayroon naman silang adbokasiya rin na mga magandang isulong,” Poe said on Tuesday, October 27, after an event with businessmen.

(When I ran before, I was low in surveys but the administration gave me a chance. But this, he will not be inadequate. Also, when Senator Ping and I talked, he still did not know the mechanics, if he would join us in our campaign. There are others who are willing and who have advocacies that we can push for.)

Half of the Poe-Escudero senatorial slate include candidates also running under other tandems. (READ: Poe completes Senate slate, to announce on Oct 29)

Aside from Ople, who is also supported by UNA and Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, Liberal Party Senator Ralph Recto, Senator Sotto, Manila Vice Mayor Isko Moreno, former senators Richard Gordon and Juan Miguel Zubiri are also included in other slates.

Aside from Manzano, senatorial bets exclusively running under the Poe-Escudero tandem are Neri Colmenares, Sherwin Gatchalian, Lorna Kapunan, Samuel Pagdilao, and Roman Romulo.

According to Poe’s advisory, her slate will run under the banner #PartidoGALINGAtPUSO, a play on her initials, GP.

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