MANILA, Philippines – It was casual and jovial, the Christmas party that the Liberal Party (LP) held in Malacañang on Wednesday, December 3. It was a gathering that saw mayors, governors, congressmen, senators, and Cabinet members come together for a night.
But among the allies of the President, it was a non-LP member who stole the show: Senator Grace Poe.
An LP lawmaker who attended the gathering said Poe was the center of attention, with partygoers eager to speak with her.
Poe, who topped the senatorial elections in 2013, is being eyed as a possible vice presidential candidate by Vice President Jejomar Binay, who plans to run for the top post in 2016.
She is also rumored to be considered as running mate of presumed standard bearer Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II in 2016.
The LP has yet to announce its candidate for the polls, although President Benigno Aquino III confirmed the selection process has begun.
Poe, however, dismissed rumors that her attendance was a sign she is eyeing a bid for a higher position come 2016 – at least for now.
Asked why she was there despite not being a party member, Poe said she was invited as an ally.
“I was invited together with other non-LP senators. Senators [Sonny] Angara and Chiz [Escudero] were there though they are also not LP. We ran under the President’s coalition in 2013,” she told Rappler.
“2016 was not discussed at all during the dinner. As they say, running for higher office is not for the unprepared or the faint of heart. I am not planning at this point,” she said.
Budget Secretary and LP stalwart Florencio Abad echoed Poe, saying “there was no serious talk about politics, much less about 2016 pairings” at the party.
“It was fun – and it was purely for fun,” he said.
Despite plunder raps against Binay and a 3-man Senate blue ribbon subcommittee investigating corruption allegations against him, the Vice President remains the top contender for the 2016 polls. Poe, meanwhile, is the top pick for vice president based on the same survey.
The Christmas party, which started at about 6 pm, ran until about midnight, when the last guests left for the night.
Poe described the party as “casual,” adding “the President was in a happy mood.”
“It was nice seeing friends from all over who also helped me out at a time when my chances of making it was very slim,” she said.
The lawmaker source said the party was “intentionally austere” because of the expected arrival of Typhoon Ruby, which was forecast to make landfall on Saturday. – Rappler.com