MANILA, Philippines – Brushing aside the popular belief that she only listens to her running mate, presidential aspirant Senator Grace Poe has named 3 of her advisers in her bid for the highest office of the land.
Poe, who is perceived to receive advice only from Senator Francis "Chiz" Escudero, said in an interview on radio dzMM on Wednesday, November 4, that there are businessmen and people from the academe who are helping her prepare for the presidency.
Among them are former National Economic and Development Authority chief Cielito Habito, former finance undersecretary Romeo Bernardo, and Washington Sycip, founder of accounting firm SGV & Company.
Poe, however, said she only talked to Sycip once.
As early as last year, the 93-year-old businessman called on the neophyte senator to run for president. Poe’s grandfather, Fernando Poe Sr, was among the first clients of the accounting firm, according to her.
“Ako’y nagpapasalamat sapagkat may mga academicians, mga miyembro ng business, nandyan si Secretary Ciel Habito na tumutulong….Hindi ko sinasabing mga ekslusibo to sa akin. Kahit sinong kandidato siguro tutulungan nila dahil para sa bayan ito,” she said in the interview.
(I am thankful because there are academicians, members of the business [sector], Secretary Ciel Habito is there helping me. I'm not saying they are only exclusive to me because I think they will help any candidate because this is for the country.)
She added that she also gets help from Bernardo, who teaches finance at the University of the Philippines, and "many others" in the business sector who "have a good reputation" but seemed to be "hesitant" to be identified.
Poe did not mention Senator Sergio "Serge" Osmeña III, her mentor in her 2013 senatorial bid where she emerged as the topnotcher. The two reportedly had a falling out after Poe shrugged off his advice not to run with Escudero, as he would only be "extra weight" for her to bear.
Osmeña has said he is a "minor adviser" in the campaign of the administration's vice presidential candidate, Camarines Sur Third District Representative Leni Robredo. In August, the senator expressed his belief that despite being relatively unknown on a national scale, Robredo can beat Escudero.
Poe Cabinet: Mixed bag
As early as now, Poe already has people in mind for her Cabinet, if elected president, but declined to name them.
She said, however, that her Cabinet would be composed of both members of her team and the opposition, as well as members of the Aquino Cabinet.
Poe said she would make her Cabinet officials accountable, as she will let them sign a document at the start of their terms on their promised deliverables.
“Best and brightest pero ang importante, may integridad at kakayahan so 'pag kinuha natin sila, papipirmahin natin sila ng papel. Ano 'yang iyong deliverables at kapag hindi mo nagawa ito, kusa ka nang mag reresign. Huwag na tayong magusap,” said Poe.
(The best and brightest, but what's important, they have integrity and capability. So if we get them, we will make them sign a document. What are your deliverables and if you do not fulfill them, resign voluntarily. Let's not talk anymore.) – 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