CEBU, Philippines – Why meet with political families if you are in favor of the anti-dynasty bill?
On the second day of the campaign on Wednesday, February 10, independent presidential candidate Grace Poe and her running mate Francis “Chiz” Escudero were asked this question at a breakfast press conference in Toledo, Cebu.
“Wala naman sigurong masama o mali. Pero oras na naipasa na ‘yung batas, lahat kami, kabilang ako, kailangan at dapat sumunod sa panukalang batas na yon,” said Escudero, whose terms as congressman of Sorsogon before was preceded and succeeded by his father and mother, respectively. (I think there’s nothing bad or wrong. But the moment the bill passes, all of us, even I, have to follow the law.)
He added: “Kaya siguro hindi ‘yan pumasa sa ilalim ng administrasyon na pinanungunahan ng Liberal Party. Mas marami silang dynasty na sumusuporta sa kanila kaysa sa amin.” (Perhaps the law wasn’t passed under this administration led by the Liberal Party. They have more dynasties supporting them than us.)
Anti-dynasty bills have failed to pass in Congress for almost 30 years. In President Benigno Aquino III’s last State of the Nation Address, he told members of Congress that it was time to pass the anti-political dynasty bill, around the time when he was visibly offended by the tirades of Vice President Jejomar Binay, who had then just resigned from his Cabinet.
Poe said: “Nasa Konstitusyon natin ‘yan, pero wala pang ngipin ang batas na ‘yan. (Our constitution prohibits that, but it’s a toothless law.)
Poe’s campaign manager is Cebu Representative Ace Durano, who belongs to an influential political family.
Poe said some new laws already have provisions that discourage dynasties. She cited the Sangguniang Kabataan (youth council) as an example. Relatives of a certain degree are barred from serving in the same council under the law.
While having an anti-dynasty law is a good start, Poe hopes that later “people will vote on the basis of capability, merit, integrity, and honesty.”
Poe added, “And I’m saying this even as I am known to the public as the daughter of FPJ,” referring to her well-loved late father, actor Fernando Poe Jr.
Poe and Escudero went to this city on Cebu’s western coast a day after their campaign launch on Tuesday, February 9, at Plaza Miranda in Manila. Also with them were senatorial candidates Francisco ‘Isko’ Moreno and Lorna Kapunan.
This was Poe’s 3rd visit to Cebu after announcing her intention to run for president in 2015. (READ: On Grace Poe’s trail Where did she go? What did she do?)
Poe was in Cebu City last January 22, where she held a dialogue with the students of Southwestern University. In October 2015, she was in Danao to meet with the Durano family and the Bakud party.
While they have been speaking to political families and parties across the country, Poe clarified that she is not seeking official endorsements.
Two presidential preference polls – by Pulse Asia and the Laylo Research Strategies – ranked Grace Poe in first place.
How did she improve her rankings?
“Because the last survey they conducted in December, Pulse Asia’s Ana Tabunda was saying that a lot of respondents were saying, ‘Is she still a candidate?'” Poe told reporters at the press conference.
But the answer to that question, Poe said, is now clear.
She said being able to visit many provinces also helped her improve poll numbers.
In the latest round of oral arguments to disqualify Poe, Supreme Court Justice Francis Jardeleza said that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) “may have crossed a line” and deprived Poe of her rights to due process.
The tandem said they intend to return to Cebu at least 3 or 4 more times during the campaign period.
According to the latest data from the Commission on Elections, Cebu is still the most vote-rich province in the country, with about 2.5 million registered voters.
In her last visit, Poe said that despite her father’s loss in Cebu during the 2004 presidential elections, she placed in the top 5 in the province when she ran for senator in 2013. (READ: Grace Poe: No beef with Cebuano voters)
Poe, Escuedero, Kapunan, and Moreno held a dialogue with students at the Toledo campus of the University of the Visayas (UV) after the morning press conference,
The candidates got celebrity treatment as they entered the courtyard around 10:30 am. Students lined up to ask questions, and one student in particular was concerned with China’s increasing presence in the West Philippine Sea.
“Kailangan nating palakasin ang ating sariling military, kahit unti-unti, para pagdating ng panahon, di tayo mabu-bully ng ibang bansa,” Poe answered. (We need to strengthen our own military so we won’t be bullied by other countries.)
How can a poor and smaller country like the Philippines defend themselves against a big country like China?
Poe noted that Singapore, a country of only 4 million, has one of the strongest air forces and maritime defense forces in the world.
“Kung kaya nila, mas lalong natin kaya,” Poe said. (If they are capable of it, we are even more capable of doing it.)
Employment and wages were the most important election issues for Rose Ann, an undergraduate at UV from Agusan del Sur.
Rose Ann still has another 4 years before she graduates and is taking up a degree in education.
“Gusto nako mo sunod ang minimum wage ug naa’y work na sakto ang sweldo,” Rose Ann said. (I want the minimum wage law to be enforced and enough jobs to be available that pay livable wages.)
After the UV visit, the candidates took a helicopter to Camotes Islands in eastern Cebu for a private event.
On Wednesday, February 11, Poe is scheduled to visit Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur. – Rappler.com
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