NPC not keen on meeting candidates other than Grace Poe

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Officials of the Nationalist People’s Coalition from Visayas and Mindanao met with Senators Grace Poe and Francis “Chiz” Escudero on Tuesday, August 18, in what NPC insists is part of “getting to know” Poe.

This is the second time both senators met with officials of the NPC, the second largest political party in the country.

NPC Executive Vice President and Rizal Representative Jack Duavit said Poe left a good impression in the earlier meeting with Luzon officials.

“So maganda nakuha na namin ang input from them, na-process na input from the last meeting. Overwhelmingly positive for Grace, the impression she left,” Duavit told reporters after the meeting.

(It's good we already got the input from [the Luzon NPC officials], we already processed the input from the last meeting. Overwhelmingly positive for Grace, the impression she left.)

The party has decided to have a third meeting with the senator next week - this time with city and provincial officials.

NPC officials and members earlier said a "majority" of them support a Poe-Escudero tandem.

Asked if they would meet with other possible presidential candidates, Duavit answered indirectly, saying Poe’s case is different.

"It’s more of getting to know you eh. Sabi nga namin all of us supported Senator Poe. It goes back to 2004 when we supported her father. Pero 'yun nga marami di pa sya nakikilala personally," he said.

(It's more of a 'getting to know you.' As we said, all of us supported Senator Poe. It goes back to 2004 when we supported her father. But, as I said, many members still do not know her personally.)

While NPC also met with administration standard-bearer Manuel “Mar” Roxas II last week, Duavit said there would be no further political meetings with Roxas beyond “work matters.”

“Kailangan din alalahanin na 8 buwan pa or 9 months bago elections. We’re part of the working coalition under Aquino administration. It’s a matter of priorities. We still have to work with them. Yes, we will be meeting with him but for work matters. As far as politics, that would have to take a backseat,” Duavit said.

(We should also recall that there are still 8 or 9 months to go before the elections. We're part of the working coaition under the Aquino administration. It's a matter of priorities. We still have to work with them. Yes, we will be meeting with him but work matters. As far as politics, that would have to take a backseat.)

As for Vice President Jejomar Binay and Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, Duavit said there is no need of meetings as the party is already acquainted with both, adding that Duterte was a former NPC member. 

NPC a big help to Poe

Poe was all smiles after Tuesday's meeting. After all, she said, she has known most of them since 2004, when NPC supported the presidential bid of her father, the late actions star Fernando Poe Jr.

Poe, as in the first meeting, asked Visayas and Mindanao officials to speak of the problems they face in their respective areas. The exchange, she said, made her “more confident, as she now better understands” the problems of the country.

Poe admitted NPC’s support would be of great help if she runs in 2016.

“Importante kasi ang NPC ay malaking partido... di lang malaking partido, abot nila maraming probinsya. Di lang naman sa Metro Manila ang malaking pangangailangan,” Poe said.

(It's important that NPC is a big party. Not only big, they can reach many provinces. It's not only Metro Manila that has needs that need to be addressed.)

Poe, front runner among national presidential preference surveys, reiterated that she has yet to decide to go foward with her candidacy, while continuing to meet with a number of individuals, groups and political parties.

The senator earlier said she is working on her campaign platform.

Negros Occidential bloc not happy?

In Bacolod City, Rappler learned that some NPC members from Negros Occidental were disappointed with the turnout of the consultative meeting in Quezon City Tuesday night.

Negros Occidental Vice Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson said that the "NPC meeting did not achieve much as far as the party members of Negros is concerned."

"It turned out to be a meet with Senator Poe, which we have done here in Negros," Lacson said. “We were hoping that some policy issue would be discussed, but I guess we expected too much.”

Lacson earlier announced that he would be supporting Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II for president. He said he would stick to his choice even if NPC chairman emeritus Eduardo “Danding” Conjuangco Jr learns of his decision.

He noted that NPC has allowed its members to support their individual choices in past presidential elections: 1998, 2004, and 2010.

Aside from Lacson, the other Negros Occidental politicians who attended the NPC meeting were Kabankalan City Mayor Isidro Zayco, who is also the NPC provincial chairman; representatives Evelio Leonardia (Bacolod), Mercedes Alvarez (6th district), and Stephen Paduano (Abang Lingkod); mayors Agustin Bascon (Himamaylan City), Oscar Montilla Jr (Sipalay City), and Ramon Torres (Bago City); and vice mayors Greg Gasataya (Bacolod) and Nicholas Yulo (Bago City).  Rappler.com

 

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation, 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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