Poe, Escudero attending bigger NPC meeting Tuesday night

MANILA, Philippines – Independent senators Grace Poe and Francis Escudero are invited to meet members of the Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC) Tuesday night, August 11, shortly after the second biggest political party holds its first meeting to discuss the 2016 polls.

The two senators have confirmed attendance, according to an NPC stalwart.

"It's basically socials. No agenda. And it's private," said another party stalwart.

It is expected to be a bigger crowd compared to the 11 party members who met with presumptive administration presidential candidate Manuel Roxas II Tuesday morning. (READ: Divided NPC? Mar Roxas meets with key members)

They will meet NPC governors and representatives from Luzon, the first regional group to have formal discussions on the 2016 polls.

Poe has yet to announce if she'll join the presidential race, although NPC president Isabela Representative Giorgidi Aggabao was earlier quoted saying he is "dead certain" she would. Escudero has announced his intent to run for vice president, too.

The ruling Liberal Party (LP) led by President Benigno Aquino III and Roxas are still hoping, however, that NPC will stay with the administaration-led coalition. They also want Poe to run as vice president under the LP banner. (READ: Poe to admin: Why not ask your bet to slide down to VP?

Aggabao and Senator Vicente Sotto III are the two NPC stalwarts who have been vocal in saying many of their members prefer to support Poe and Escudero should they join the presidential and vice presidential races. (READ: NPC could propel NPC as PH's biggest political party)

This will mean a collapse of the coalition.

Aggabao sought to downplay the meeting between Roxas and NPC members, too.

"The meeting was called by LP.  I thought it is important for NPC to go not only to listen to Secretary Mar but prevent or repair a rift between the parties that, I would stress, is only about the elections, and not the larger comitment of NPC to continue suporting the president and his programs," Aggabao said in a statement.

"Secretary Mar will make his point, the message will be clearly received. The next move would be NPC's to make," he added.

NPC spokesperson Valenzuela Mayor Rex Gatchalian also denied a report that it was NPC founder businessman Eduardo Cojuangco who ordered the NPC members to meet with Roxas.

"Ambassador Cojuangco has long left the party decisions and operations to the party officers and members. He no longer interferes with the party's affairs," Gatchalian said.  Rappler.com