MANILA, Philippines – Senator Francis Escudero, a vice-presidential wannabe, distanced himself from moves to persuade his close friend Senator Grace Poe to become the running mate of administration presidential candidate Manuel Roxas II.
“Those pushing for this must convince Senator Grace, not me. I've said this over and over again that she alone will and can decide what's best for her, and I'll be here to support her decision,” Escudero said in a text message.
Escudero is deemed influential in Poe’s political career. Poe recognized it herself in past interviews.
Her past statements suggested that she is inclined to run for president with Escudero as her running mate. She cited how Escudero helped her during the 2013 senatorial elections and his father, the late Fernando Poe Jr, in the 2004 presidential campaign.
But Poe changed her tune in recent statements, clarifying that she will make her plans for 2016 without necessarily considering Escudero's.
All eyes are on Poe now that President Benigno Aquino III has endorsed Roxas as his preferred successor in 2016.
But Escudero has also publicly declared he is considering a vice presidential run in 2016. He resigned as chairman of the powerful Senate finance committee that scrutinizes national budget out of “delicadeza.”
She, Escudero, and Aquino met several times to discuss the 2016 elections but failed to reach an agreement.
Although it was never explicitly said to her, the neophyte senator admitted in an interview that she felt the President wanted her to run as Roxas’ vice presidential candidate.
Aquino still hopeful
Despite failed talks, the President remains hopeful that Poe and Escudero would join him in a “unified” ticket in 2016.
"We are still hoping. We still want to have that very unified group that will preserve the coalition as much as possible that can ensure the victory of the agenda," Aquino said.
But so far, all Escudero and Poe have to say is that the administration's Daang Matuwid (Straight Path) is not “exclusive” to a single party.
The President warned of the dangers of having a divided coalition and said it might lead to the opposition's victory.
"Pero kapag naghati tayo nang naghati nang naghati, baka naman maging manipis na manipis 'yung lamang at doon manganib lahat 'yung pinaghirapan natin," Aquino said.
(But if we continue to be divided, we might end up having slim lead over the others. That's when all our efforts would be put to waste.) – Rappler.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org