Aquino now 'closer' to choosing 2016 candidate

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – After a six-hour meeting that started on Wednesday, July 15, and ended past midnight, President Benigno Aquino III still has not made up his mind about the candidate he will be endorsing for the 2016 presidential election.

Aquino told reporters on Thursday, July 16, that if it were only up to him, he would have wanted a decision after last night’s meeting. But he said he needed to consult not just his party mates in the Liberal Party but other groups and sectors as well.

Aquino said he is now “closer” to choosing his own presidential bet in 2016.

“Palagay ko the best that I can say at this point, in this minute, is: I am closer to that point,” Aquino told a press conference at Camp Crame after the turnover ceremony for the new chief of the Philippine National Police.

The Wednesday night meeting was attended by the Liberal Party’s presumed standard-bearer Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero and Senator Grace Poe. (READ: Poe on dinner: Mar and I agreed to 'listen to the people')

Some Cabinet members, such as Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez and Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad, were also present. Both are closely identified with Roxas.

No sure announcement after SONA?

Aquino was earlier reported to be having a "hard time" in choosing his anointed one.

The President considers this a good thing, as it means many people are willing to continue the reforms that he started. 

"Siguro, sa akin ano, magandang senyales iyon, magandang pangyayari. Ang mga lumabas sa aming usapan: number one, lahat 'nung parties na nandoon kagabi, lahat 'nung mga taong kasama natin sa pagpupulong, sumasangayon na malaki ang naging pagbabago sa ating lipunan, sa ating bansa sa loob ng limang taon,” Aquino said. 

Poe is leading in national presidential preference surveys. In the June Social Weather Stations survey, Poe led the list of preferred presidential candidates with 42%, followed by Vice President Jejomar Binay with 34%, and Roxas with 21%.

Sources said that the real problem is that not one among the 3 – Roxas, Escudero, and Poe – is willing to compromise.

Various sectors and influential businessmen are pushing for Poe to run for president. Escudero is being eyed as her possible running mate.

Roxas, on the other hand, is “fully focused” on the presidency, Abad told Rappler. 

Another source mentioned that Roxas dislikes Escudero, since Escudero campaigned for Roxas' rival in the 2010 vice presidential race, Binay.

Poe confirmed to Rappler that they will have another meeting before Aquino's last State of the Nation Address on July 27. No confirmed date was given.

The President said he hopes to make the announcement during his self-imposed deadline, after his SONA.

"Mahirap namang magsalita ng tapos na matutuloy natin ‘yan. Hindi lang naman sarili kong desisyon, kaya nga nag-uusap sa iba’t ibang sektor. Inaasahan natin or parang I’m hoping that that schedule will be met," Aquino said.

Aquino said he would continue his consultations with other sectors, not only for the presidential post but also for the senatorial and local candidates. – Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com

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