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MANILA, Philippines – Liberal Party (LP) president and Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said he is not aware of any discussion among party stalwarts for the administration party to field independent Senator Grace Poe as presidential candidate.
He’s not privy to Poe’s talks with LP chairman President Benigno Aquino III and party president-on-leave Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II, but Abaya said the rest of the leadership wants Roxas to become the party’s standard bearer in 2016 and Poe, his runningmate.
“There’s no Plan B. We have to finalize A first. We have to firm up, finalize, and execute A,” Abaya said.
“Secretary Mar has been more active in his functions and more visible. He’s going around related to his functions. Some of our LP members have been assisting and facilitating his visits as well,” Abaya added. (READ: Albay’s Salceda endorses Roxas)
LP has not formally sat down to discuss its 2016 ticket but Abaya said he expects a meeting to be called before Aquino announces his choice after his last State of the Nation Address in July.
The possibility that LP is going to field Poe as its presidential candidate was floated as her poll numbers continue to inch closer to longtime frontrunner Vice President Jejomar Binay’s. Roxas remains a poor third in the surveys.
Poe ran and topped the 2013 senatorial elections under the LP rainbow coalition ticket. She chose to remain independent.
But Abaya said no one in the party has broached this possibility. “I have yet to hear from an LP saying: ‘Dapat si Grace ang president natin.’ Wala pa (I have yet to hear from an LP saying, ‘Grace Poe should be our president.’ No one has said that).”
“From within the group, magtutulak kay Poe (push for Poe’s candidacy)? No one has shown any overt action,” he added.
Statements coming from Aquino, Roxas, and Poe have not been clear, contributing to the continuous speculation.
Aquino did not specify what he offered Poe – to be president or vice president – when he announced that he was in talks with her for the 2016 polls. Roxas has refused to declare his plans in spite of calls from LP Vice Chairman Senate President Frankln Drilon for the Interior Secretary to position himself in the race.
Poe appears still very much open to a presidential bid, recently teasing the Binay camp that its attacks against her eligibility have encouraged her to seriously consider a presidential bid. And there’s Senator Francis Escudero who has said that he’s also open to running for vice president.
LP stalwarts have endorsed the tandem of Roxas and Poe in 2016, saying it’s part of the party’s 18-year plan to stay in power and continue Aquino’s programs for at least two more presidencies. Based on the plan, Poe is supposed to succeed Roxas.
Drilon has repeatedly stressed in media interviews that he prefers a party member as presidential bet. LP stalwart Florencio “Butch” Abad, who is budget secretary, practically campaigned for Roxas in a recent speech abroad.
One of the country’s oldest political parties, LP has produced 4 presidents. But the gap between Aquino and the last, Diosdado Macapagal, was half a century. – Rappler.com