MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Several sources within the ruling Liberal Party (LP) said no one among Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero, and Senator Grace Poe are willing to compromise for the 2016 presidential elections.
The 3 will meet President Benigno Aquino III on Wednesday night, July 15, to hopefully sort things out.
If this gridlock continues, the Grace-Chiz tandem, one source said, will push through with their plans to announce their team-up on August 20, which would have been the 76th birthday of Poe’s late father, actor Fernando Poe Jr.
When asked by Rappler, Poe said "we have no such plan."
A source said Roxas is eyeing only the presidency while Poe refuses to slide down to vice president and drop Escudero, her strongest ally. Escudero has earlier said he will aim for the vice presidency if and when he decides to run in 2016. He has also repeatedly expressed support for Poe as presidential candidate.
Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, a staunch Roxas supporter, told Rappler on Tuesday, July 14, that Roxas is indeed only “fully focused” on the presidency.
"That’s the impression I get. He thinks with what has been done and with his long experience, he can do it,” Abad said in an interview with Rappler.
Another source said Roxas dislikes Escudero. After all, it was Escudero’s endorsement of Vice President Jejomar Binay that supposedly led to Binay’s victory over Roxas in 2010.
In an earlier interview, Escudero said “past is past” and claimed there is no bad blood between him and Roxas. After all, he said, Binay already dropped him and Poe in 2013.
“Wala naman kaming away, 'di ko naman siya inaway, nagkataon lang di ko siya sinuportahan,” Escudero said. (We don't have any quarrel, I didn't fight him, it just so happened I did not support him.)
Roxas, however, remains mum on the issue.
With several Liberal Party members expressing doubt about Roxas’ ability to win, the question of a party split is looming.
In a report by the Inquirer, House Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte Jr said Roxas “should prove his winnability by a dramatic increase in ratings.”
Roxas has been lagging behind Poe and Binay in nationwide presidential preference surveys.
Another source also said the Belmonte bloc, including Muntinlupa Representative Rodolfo Biazon, is indeed planning to leave the LP once Roxas is declared the standard-bearer.
Senator Franklin Drilon, vice chairman of the ruling party, supposedly wanted to convene the party to address issues. Drilon, however, denied this.
Caloocan Representative and LP political adviser Edgar Erice said there is no need for a party convention.
"I don’t think there will be a party convention as far as the LP is concerned. I think the LP is 100% for sec mar," Erice said.
Abad, for his part, is unfazed, saying the LP has stood the test of time in the past.
“This party has been here for more than 50 years. We have withstood the good and the bad – the martial law, electoral loss. We are stronger than that (standard-bearer issue).”
This supposed strength, however, is yet to be seen in the next weeks, as President Aquino is set to announce his anointed one after his last State of the Nation Address on July 27. – Rappler.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org