NPC may field Poe-Escudero team
If they are running together in next year’s elections, Senators Grace Poe and Francis “Chiz” Escudero have an edge in getting backing from the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), according to Sen. Vicente Sotto III.
The latest member of the NPC to speak about party support to a Poe-Escudero ticket, Sotto on Saturday cited the two senators’ closeness to the party and their having “no baggage.”
Sotto said that while the party had yet to meet to decide who to support in 2016, members looked favorably on a Poe-Escudero ticket—if it would materialize.
Sotto said whoever the NPC would back who could count on strong support at the grassroots level, given the substantial number of party members in local positions.
At present, the party has 48 members in the House of Representatives and hundreds of mayors all over the country, he said.
The NPC backed the candidacy of President Benigno Aquino III in 2010, and Sotto said the party remained a partner of the President but not of any political party.
Poe, an independent who topped the 2013 senatorial election, has emerged as a potential presidential candidate, running second to Vice President Jejomar Binay and ahead of Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, the presumptive presidential candidate of the ruling Liberal Party (LP), in the polls.
The LP is reportedly wooing Poe to run with Roxas as his Vice President, with President Aquino personally talking to her to introduce her to the administration’s reform program.
No NPC member in Palace race
But Poe, a junior senator with less than three years on the job, has not decided whether to run for higher office.
Neither has Escudero, a former member of the NPC who is believed to be angling for the presidency but has no political machinery to support him in a race for Malacañang.
Escudero has said that if he will run next year, it will be only for Vice President, indicating that he is willing to hitch a ride with Poe if she is running for President.
No NPC member has signified an intention to run for President or Vice President.
Earlier, Deputy House Speaker Giorgidi Aggabao, the NPC president, was reported as saying that party members were inclined to support a Poe-Escudero ticket.
“There’s nothing definite, but most of us, most of the members of the NPC, agree with what President Aggabao said,” Sotto said in a phone interview.
“But we cannot confirm until the candidates are decided and who [is] running for [which] position,” he added.
Sotto said there had been informal talks among party members about a Poe-Escudero ticket.
He also said that at one time or another, there were discussions about Binay and former Sen. Panfilo Lacson, who is also believed to be eyeing the presidency.
But a partnership between Poe and Escudero is more attractive, Sotto said, because they “have no baggage.”
Neither Poe nor Escudero has been involved in scandals, although the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) of Binay is trying to force a controversy involving Poe, a former US citizen, by questioning her Philippine residency and citizenship. She has answered the questions, but former Negros Oriental Rep. Jacinto Paras, a UNA member, has threatened to bring a petition for her disqualification if she decides to run.
Moreover, Poe and Escudero are considered friends of the party and almost “closet members” of the NPC, Sotto said.
“They’re part of [the NPC gang],” Sotto said. “They’re very close to us politically.”
Escudero was once a prospective NPC presidential candidate, but he quit the party in 2009 and had since remained independent.
Poe, daughter of the late movie actor Fernando Poe Jr., who ran for President in 2004 but lost to Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, is closing in on Binay in the polls, but she says she does not have the money and machinery needed to make a run for Malacañang. TVJ
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