‘Poe to run for President’
With Sen. Grace Poe virtually shutting the door on President Aquino’s overtures for her to team up with Interior Secretary Mar Roxas for a coalition ticket next year, senators close to the front-running presidential candidate are more certain she will run as independent.
In a phone interview, Sen. Serge Osmeña said of Poe: “She is just dancing the fandango, she is just going through the motion, she has already made up her mind. She will run for President.”
Sen. Vicente Sotto III said he had no doubt that Poe would run for President with her close friend, Sen. Francis Escudero, as her running mate.
He said the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) was to meet before the end of the month and would likely decide to support a Poe-Escudero team in the 2016 balloting.
NPC members are waiting for Poe’s final decision on whether she will seek the presidency, he said. “Many of us will be supporting her. I, for one, (will support Poe),” Sotto said.
Osmeña used to be one of Poe’s advisers and mentors when she ran as an independent for senator under Team P-Noy. But he said he had broken ties with Poe. “I disagreed with some of her moves,” he said. He declined to elaborate.
In previous interviews, Osmeña suggested that Poe was not yet ripe to lead the country and that she was better off as Roxas’ running mate.
Monday meeting with Aquino
In a text message to the Inquirer, Poe said: “We did not set another meeting but he (Aquino) said to keep the lines of communication open.”
Poe said the meeting on Monday night in Malacañang lasted five hours and that she could “sense the very difficult position the President was in.”
“I understand and sympathize with his predicament and situation. In the end, we both agreed to continue, in whatever capacity, striving and working for our countrymen and for the betterment of our children’s future,” she said.
The President’s one-on-one meeting with Poe Monday night followed last week’s dinner with her, Roxas and Sen. Francis Escudero.
Poe said Monday’s meeting with the President was “perhaps our last meeting before the Sona (State of the Nation Address) and … we both agreed that we both have the best interest of our country in mind in whatever decisions we will make in the coming days.”
Aquino has said he would announce his administration’s presidential candidate after his Sona on July 27.
The Liberal Party (LP) is expected to announce Roxas as its standard-bearer after the Sona and the President will endorse Roxas a few days later.
Osmeña said that based on a survey he commissioned, Poe would win even in a crowded race contrary to an analysis of House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II that Vice President Jejomar Binay would only lose if the administration fielded a single candidate.
In his survey, Osmeña said Poe had a 37-percent share ahead of Binay’s 30 percent, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s 17 percent and Roxas’ 11 percent.
But Osmeña cautioned that the public preferences remained fluid and could change up to the final week or days of the election as shown in the 2010 presidential election.
He noted that in the September 2009 survey, then Senator Aquino had a commanding 51-percent share in the survey with his closest rival, then Sen. Manuel Villar, with 20 percent. “By February, Aquino and Villar were statistically tied at 35 percent,” Osmeña said.
He said the unpredictability of the surveys was more pronounced in the race for Vice President. He said Roxas was leading the race with a 49-percent share ahead of Sen. Loren Legarda with 30 percent and Binay with 12 percent just 15 weeks before Election Day.
Sotto expressed doubt that Poe would agree to run for Vice President next year because of her commitment to support Escudero.
“I doubt it because I know for a fact that Senator Escudero is running as an independent vice-presidential candidate. I don’t think she would not want to support him. I think the commitment is to support him,” Sotto told reporters in a chance interview in Malacañang during President Aquino’s signing into law the Philippine Competition Act and the Liberalized Cabotage Law.
Asked if a Poe-Escudero tandem was a done deal, Sotto replied: “That I do not know. Perhaps they are seriously considering it. That I know for a fact, seriously considering it.”
Sotto earlier said Poe and Escudero were likely to get the support of the NPC. On Tuesday, he said that the NPC was to meet after the Sona.
“We will discuss what will be the NPC’s position on the presidential and vice-presidential elections,” Sotto said.–With a report from Nikko Dizon
See the bigger picture with the Inquirer's live in-depth coverage of the election here https://inq.ph/Election2019
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.