Mar Roxas, Grace Poe go solo to kick off senatorial bids

Mara Cepeda

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Mar Roxas, Grace Poe go solo to kick off senatorial bids
Mar Roxas begins the official campaign period in Roxas City, Capiz, while Grace Poe leads a feeding program for public school students in Quezon City

CAMARINES SUR, Philippines – Two former presidential bets in 2016 who are now running for senator – ex-interior secretary Mar Roxas and reelectionist Senator Grace Poe – mounted their own events to jumpstart their respective campaigns.

Roxas kicked off the official campaign period on Tuesday, February 12, by attending the send-off activity organized by his kasimanwas or fellow citizens at the Dinggoy Roxas Civic Center in Roxas City, Capiz.

Western Visayas, which includes the provinces of Capiz, Iloilo, Negros Occidental, Antique, Aklan, and Guimaras, is a bailiwick of Roxas and the Liberal Party (LP).

“Ito ang lugar kung saan nagsimula ang lahat. Gusto ko laging magsimula na kasama kayo. Maraming salamat sa pagmamahal na binibigay ‘nyo sa akin. Hindi ko kayo makakalimutan,” Roxas told some 2,500 people gathered there.

(This is where it all started. I always want to start with you. Thank you for all the love you’ve given me. I won’t forget you.)

Roxas said his kasimanwas had inspired his 2019 senatorial bid, which he previously said is not a mere rehash of his 2016 electoral loss.

“Kayo ang inspirasyon ko sa pagtakbo. Marami pang trabaho ang dapat gawin para magkaroon ng kaginhawaan ang buhay nating mga Pilipino,” said Roxas.

(You’re my inspiration to run. There’s still a lot of work to be done to uplift the lives of Filipinos.)

He was joined in Capiz by his mother, Judy Araneta Roxas, and his wife, broadcaster Korina Sanchez Roxas. (READ: Mar Roxas says Ilonggo support won’t make him complacent)

BAILIWICK. Senatorial candidate Mar Roxas speaks to supporters in Roxas City, Capiz, on February 12, 2019. Photo from Roxas' Facebook page

Poe, meanwhile, led a feeding program for public school students in Payatas, Quezon City, in a bid to highlight her advocacy to guarantee nutritious meals for the youth. She had co-authored Republic Act No. 11037 or the Masustansyang Pagkain Para Sa Batang Pilipino Act.

Around 800 students from Payatas B Elementary School joined Poe’s feeding program.

According to Poe, these students serve as a reminder why she is seeking reelection in May.

“Sila talaga ang simbolo ng pag-asa kaya gusto ko dito mag-umpisa kasi masaya. Sila ay nagpapaalala sa akin kung bakit ako tumakbo sa unang pagkakataon,” Poe told reporters.

(They symbolize hope, and I want to start my campaign here because it’s happy here. They remind me why I ran the first time.)

“Sa umpisa pa lang [bago ako maihalal] sa Senado ay ‘yung mga mahihirap at nangangailangan ay dapat na unahin,” she said.

(Even before I was elected to the Senate, I already believed that the poor should come first.)

FEEDING PROGRAM. Reelectionist Senator Grace Poe hands out meals to public school students in Quezon City on February 12, 2019. Photo from Poe's Facebook page

Both Poe, an independent candidate, and Roxas, who is running as part of the LP-led Otso Diretso opposition slate, are performing well in pre-election surveys so far. They have been landing in the so-called Magic 12 or winners’ circle.

Roxas will be joining the grand proclamation rally of the Otso Diretso ticket to be held in Naga City on Wednesday, February 13.

Poe will have her own proclamation rally on Wednesday as well in Tondo, Manila. Other reelectionist senators are expected to join her.

The two senatorial hopefuls lost to then-Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte in the 2016 presidential polls.

Duterte rose to power with almost 16 million votes, while Roxas came in second with 9.7 million votes. Poe finished third with 8.94 million votes.

On Wednesday, reelectionist senators Nancy Binay, Sonny Angara, and JV Ejercito together with senatorial bets Juan Ponce Enrile, former Senate president, and Danilo Roleda also had their campaign kickoff in San Jose del Monte City, Bulacan. –


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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at or tweet @maracepeda.