Villafuertes back Grace Poe-Leni Robredo ticket

NAGA CITY, Philippines – Camarines Sur Governor Miguel “Migz” Villafuerte and his father, former Governor Luis Raymund “LRay” Villafuerte, reiterated their support for the presidential bid of Senator Grace Poe, but clarified that the backing will not extend to her running mate, Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero.

Instead the Villafuertes will support for vice president their province mate and ally, Camarines Sur 3rd District Representative Leni Robredo. (READ: Realignments start in Robredo's Camarines Sur)

“I’ll be frank. 'Though I have a heavy heart – because senators Antonio Trillanes, Bongbong Marcos, and Alan Peter Cayetano are my friends and mentors – I will be supporting the candidacy of my kababayan. We will support Leni Robredo. So it’s Grace and Leni in Camarines Sur,” the young governor said on Tuesday, October 6, during Poe's visit.

The Villafuertes invited Poe to grace the World Teacher’s Day celebration in Camarines Sur and meet the key political players in the province. The senator, in turn, expressed gratitude to the Villafuertes for embracing her candidacy. (READ: In Photos: Stars, politicians, ordinary folks turn up for Grace Poe)

It is not clear who the clan patriarch, former Representative Luis Villafuerte Sr, will be supporting. He had a falling out with his son and grandson in 2013, and fielded his wife against Robredo then.

Camarines Sur has the biggest voters' population among the 6 provinces in the Bicol region – 40% of the region's voters – followed by Albay.

“I will do everything to make Poe win in Camarines Sur,” Governor Villafuerte said.

He said 24 out of 35 municipal mayors in the province are supporting Poe's candidacy against Robredo's standard-bearer, the Liberal Party's Manuel Roxas II.

Miguel and LRay belong to the Nacionalista Party, while Poe is an independent who is awaiting the endorsement of the Nacionalist People's Coalition.

'Gifted people'

Speaking before a crowd of around 12,000, composed mostly of public school teachers and political supporters at Jesse M. Robredo Coliseum, Poe said she admired for having remarkable and intelligent political leaders with untainted reputations.

She cited as examples the late Senator Raul Roco and the late Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, husband of the Liberal Party's vice presidential candidate.

“Bicol is gifted with intelligent people and political leaders like late senator Raul Roco and late DILG Secretary Jess Robredo. That’s why today 4 of the vice presidentiables are Bicolano senators: Chiz Escudero, my running mate, Antonio Trillanes, Gregorio Honasan, and Representative Leni Robredo,” Poe said. (READ: Bicol: A 'cradle' of VP candidates)

Although she acknowledged that the famed Bicol bloc vote will be divided now, Poe said it was good that voters are being given many options. She nevertheless pushed for Escudero, who is from Sorsogon.

“For me, we’re giving our people the opportunity to choose. Senator Chiz, I think, has proven himself. Then Congresswoman Leni Robredo is also a capable candidate. Senator Antonio Trillanes has also proven his competence, then Senator Gringo Honasan,” she said. – Rappler.com