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MANILA, Philippines – Will we be seeing Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II and Senator Grace Poe visit the provinces together in the next few weeks and months?
It was an idea apparently broached by no less than President Benigno Aquino III and first reported by the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Sunday, July 12. But it turns out that it was something that never even reached the planning stages.
“No concrete agreement and planning since then. It almost goes without saying that it will not push through,” Poe, who currently leads surveys on preferred presidential candidates, told ABS-CBN.
The Inquirer report came out days after Poe and Senator Francis Escudero met with Aquino for over 4 hours. It is widely believed that Aquino is wooing Poe to be the running mate of Roxas, the presumptive standard-bearer of the ruling Liberal Party.
In its report, the Inquirer, citing a source, said Poe agreed to the President’s request but insisted that Escudero, the neophyte senator’s close friend and political ally, tag along as well. (READ: Chiz: Aquino having ‘hard time’ choosing anointed one)
Poe told the Inquirer that the offer was made but the report did not specify when it happened. “The Inquirer’s source said it was before the meeting among Poe, Escudero and the President in Malacañang on Thursday,” read the Inquirer report.
The senator later clarified to ABS-CBN that it was an offer made back in May 2015, when Poe met the President in Malacañang. It was Poe’s first meeting with the President to discuss the coming 2016 elections.
Escudero told reporters last Friday, July 10, that the President remained undecided on who to endorse for the 2016 presidential race. On the same day, the President met with Roxas and Budget Secretary and LP stalwart Florencio “Butch” Abad.
LP stalwarts have issued statements indicating that they believe the President would endorse Roxas, who is struggling in the surveys.
Last month, a top LP official acknowledged the plan to field a Roxas-Poe tandem. “There’s no plan B,” the official said. (READ: ‘Roxas-Poe is Plan A; there’s no Plan B’ – LP president)
“We are hopeful and would welcome a united ticket but the friends of Mar are also prepared and confident to move forward with or without a united ticket,” Cavite Representative Francis Gerald Abaya, younger brother of LP president and Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, told Rappler in a Sunday, July 12 text message.
The younger Abaya has been joining Roxas in several of his trips to the provinces, most recently when Roxas distributed police patrol jeeps in Mindanao.
Although LP members are pushing for a Roxas-Poe tandem in 2016, there are groups and individuals who are pushing for Poe and Escudero to run as independent candidates in the coming elections. (READ: Grace Poe won’t join Liberal Party for 2016)
Escudero himself said he was open to this idea.
In a chance interview with reporters late May this year, Poe seemingly shot down a possible Roxas-Poe tandem.
The President is set to meet again with Poe and Escudero before his last State of the Nation Address (SONA) in late July 2015.
Aquino is set to announce his – and the LP’s – anointed candidate after his last SONA. – Rappler.com