Escudero: We’re running under Partido Pilipinas
Proudly saying the Philippines was their party, Sen. Francis Escudero on Thursday declared that he was seeking the vice presidency and that he and Sen. Grace Poe, who is running for the presidency, would set up a “government with a heart for the people.”
“Our party is the Philippines, and the members of our party are the Filipino people,” Escudero said, stressing they were running as independents under “an ideology and principle” that they called “Partido Pilipinas.”
Being independent would enable them to devote themselves to the “higher calling of serving our country as President and Vice President,” Escudero said.
A day after she declared her bid for the presidency, Poe joined Escudero in his declaration of candidacy at Club Filipino in Greenhills, San Juan City, to introduce him as the one who would help her realize her dream of establishing a government that would really work for the people.
Both Poe and Escudero made it plain to everyone that their partnership was without the party machinery that for a long time had dominated national elections in the Philippines.
Where before streamers of political parties would line the stages, only “Grace-Chiz” streamers could be seen at Club Filipino on Thursday. A screen nearby the stage radiated the sign “Partido Pilipinas 2016” in blue and red.
The gathering also introduced the Poe-Escudero campaign colors, with Poe’s sky blue joining Escudero’s fiery red.
Poe explained that it was her mother, movie actress Susan Roces, who told her not to forget the Virgin Mary and that was why her campaign colors were the Lourdes sky blue and white.
“Senator Chiz has the red, so we can see that (with her sky blue and white), we are carrying (the colors) of the national flag of the Philippines,” Poe said.
Before she introduced Escudero, Poe explained why she picked him as her running mate and said that it had nothing to do with their being good friends.
“It’s true Senator Chiz is my friend, but for the nation, my reason for teaming up with him is personal trust. He is a person who can be trusted, a person who has experience and a person who has already done something for the people,” Poe said.
More than Escudero serving as spokesperson for the presidential campaign of her late father, Fernando Poe Jr. (FPJ), Escudero also did not have any fears of telling the truth about the 2004 presidential race, Poe said.
She was referring to the opposition’s contention then that FPJ was cheated of victory, which threw a shadow over the presidency of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Poe said what was lost then was not the vote of her father but the right of the people to choose their leader, which, she stressed, Escudero did not surrender.
She also vouched for Escudero’s track record as a senator, especially in working for better health and education for children.
“We are with him first because he can be trusted. Secondly, because he can do good for the nation,” Poe said.
“So today, I am happy to seek your support for someone we can rely on to serve us, our Vice President, Sen. Chiz Escudero,” Poe said, drawing applause as Escudero went up the stage.
In a 15-minute speech delivered in Filipino and interrupted several times by applause from their supporters, Escudero said he had initially said he was ready to support Poe either as a candidate or as an ordinary supporter, the same thing he did for her father.
Dream for the people
Escudero said that actually he was already contented with his simple life, noting that he was newly married.
But some people, he said, asked why someone like him who was “young, and living in a humble townhouse in Quezon City… [would] dream so boldly, [would] have such grand ambitions.”
“In a way, those people have a point. My family name is only Escudero. I don’t have the same pedigree of Quezon, Roxas or Osmeña, of those who have become Presidents, heroes or wealthy philanthropists,”
But then he said he disagreed with those who said he should not have big dreams, especially if those dreams were not for himself but for the people.
“This is why I have decided to accept, with wholehearted will and humility, Sen. Grace’s challenge to accompany her on her journey, and to run as her Vice President,” he said.
And he said he accepted the challenge because he believed in the character and ability of Poe, who, like her father, has her heart “in the right place.”
“I believe that, as President, Sen. Grace Poe or GP will lead a GP—Gobyernong May Puso or a Government with a Heart,” he said.
No one left behind
Escudero envisioned a government with a heart for the poor, the needy, the farmers, fishermen, laborers and overseas Filipino workers as well as a government that would find ways to reduce the cost of utilities, basic goods and cut taxes.
“And a government with a heart to ensure our country progresses without leaving anyone behind,” he said. “In the pursuit of wealth and development, education and opportunities, security and peace, and freedom and health, not a single Filipino or corner of the Philippines should be left behind.”
And because the next President has to appoint and delete 5,000 people who will fill positions in 500 agencies and spend P18 trillion over a six-year term, Escudero vowed that he and Poe would establish a government with a heart “through a detailed platform of government for each agency, which will be based on a yearly budget.”
In an apparent dig at the Aquino administration, Escudero also pledged that he and Poe would work hard from the first day of their term until the last.
“We cannot afford to dawdle or hold ourselves hostage to analysis paralysis,” Escudero said.
To fight corruption
Like Poe’s statements on Wednesday night when she declared her presidential candidacy, Escudero vowed that they would fight corruption with the help of the passage of the freedom of information bill and a crackdown on irregularities.
“Senator Grace and I cannot do this alone. We need the help of everyone of you, of every Filipino,” Escudero said.
The senator also said he and Poe believed that they should not be beholden to a single party.
“Our party should be the Filipino people. And we should be loyal not only to liberals, nationalists, or other party members, but to every Filipino,” he said.
“I am Chiz Escudero, a Filipino, a son, husband father and a Bicolano public servant. With the grace of God and the Blessed Mother, I humbly offer myself to the mission of serving you as your Vice President… as the Vice President of our country,” Escudero said.
In a text message to reporters, Escudero said he had no plan to register Partido Pilipinas as a political party.
“It’s an ideology and a principle. That we all belong to the one country and people and a call for us to be united, to stop bickering, to set aside our differences and work together to move the country forward,” Escudero said.
8 senatorial candidates
Escudero’s mother, Sorsogon Rep. Evelina Escudero, disclosed that the Poe-Escudero ticket already had eight people on its senatorial slate.
But the congresswoman declined to identify the senatorial candidates.
She said she expects the senatorial slate to be completed by the end of the month.