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Poe’s campaign promise: Not to hit Aquino

Did you know that Sen. Grace Poe promised not to verbally attack President Aquino during the campaign for the 2016 presidential election?

No less than the President made the disclosure on Thursday at a news conference in Malacañang.

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Poe, he said, made the pledge in a lengthy text message sent to him the night before she declared her presidential bid at Ang Bahay ng Alumni on the University of the Philippines campus in Diliman, Quezon City.

He quoted the senator as saying: “There will come a point in the campaign that something will reach your camp that I am attacking you. I will never attack you.”

Mr. Aquino said he thanked Poe for saying so. But he said it was all right if she would criticize him or his administration.

“Why not? Just put it in the proper context and is based on truth,” he said.

Also texted Roxas

But he was really grateful to Poe for the text message. “It really made me happy in a sense that she was like saying goodbye and her intention was clear.”

Poe also sent Mar Roxas, the ruling Liberal Party (LP) standard-bearer in the May 2016 elections, a text message to express her gratitude to him for patiently waiting for her to decide whether to run.

“She thanked me for my patience and understanding in considering her a running mate. I thanked her and wished her good luck,” Roxas told reporters.

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LP leaders had opposed proposals to adopt Poe as presidential candidate because she was not a member of the party. But along with the President, they wooed her to be the running mate of Roxas, believing that her popularity would rub off on the interior secretary.

But she spurned the administration’s overtures to make an independent run for Malacañang.

Appreciation

Asked about Poe’s speech at the UP event, where she asserted “no one man or group holds a monopoly of ‘daang matuwid,’” the President pointed out the senator did not categorically refer to him.

He said he appreciated Poe for giving him credit for his efforts to curb corruption and for saying the reform program has restored the people’s faith in an honest leader.

“But if sustaining the administration’s reform program is really their intention, why should I get angry?” he asked.

“‘If they can capture the imagination of the voters, if they can expand [the reform program], people will most likely favor them. If whom I endorsed could show that he could show that he is more able in continuing the program, then people would side with him,” he said.

“What’s important to us is we should not go back to where we came from.”

In her remarks, Poe warned those behind corrupt practices would be held accountable, “whether they be friend or foe.” She also vowed to push for true reforms to achieve a transparent government, inclusive growth and global competitiveness.

For the President, “we should be practical. When it comes to elections, there’s what we call ‘brand differentiation’ in marketing.”

“How can you say that we are better, more able and have better intention if you don’t speak about the shortcomings of the present administration in this or that area,” he said.

That was why, he said: “If we speak, let’s base it on truth. Let’s not promise heaven, the stars and the moon. Let’s respect the people who are the source of our power, who give us the mandate to give them the truth.”

Promising too much

Poe may have promised too much in her speech introducing herself as a candidate for the presidency, according to Sen. Serge Osmeña III.

“People will see that she’s promising [these things] but has no track record of accomplishments in managing the affairs of government,” Osmeña told reporters.

He said that in sharing what she wanted to do, it was as if she was saying that all those things were not accomplished by the present administration, and she would be the one to do them.

‘Interesting’ race

In the House of Representatives, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said Poe’s entry into the 2016 race had made the electoral contest more “interesting.”

Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, a senatorial aspirant, said that Poe’s declaration would “brighten up” next year’s presidential election.

House Minority Leader Ronaldo Zamora was all praise for Poe’s speech. “It’s the kind of speech that an honest-to-goodness presidential candidate needed to say. I’m glad she said it,” said Zamora.

The LP spokesperson, Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone, expressed confidence that the administration party and its allies would be able to muster enough support to ensure the victory of Roxas.

Evardone said Poe’s decision to challenge Roxas in the presidential race should prompt LP members and their supporters to work harder.

“The more, the merrier. That’s part of the democratic process,” he said. “We just have to campaign hard and make sure that we will win the presidency and vice presidency in 2016.”

He said the LP may also need to rethink its overall campaign plan since the ruling party had initially prepared for a one-on-one fight between Roxas and Binay.

Asked if the LP was anxious of Poe’s candidacy, the Eastern Samar lawmaker replied: “No, not at all. We are confident that the Filipino electorate will be discerning enough to ensure the continuity of the reform agenda of President Aquino.”

Motherhood statements

Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice, the LP chief of political affairs, dismissed Poe’s speech as “full of motherhood statements” and that most of her plans were already being done in the present administration.

Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. said motherhood statements could be “tiresome to the ears of voters” without laying down concrete steps on how to achieve these promises.

Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, who is expected to run for senator in 2016, said he was “inclined” to support Poe because of her promise of bringing new hope to the country.

Although Makabayan chair Satur Ocampo was part of negotiations in forming a coalition to support Poe, Colmenares said the group had yet to make a final decision on the 2016 elections.

He said Makabayan would hold a convention on Sept. 30 to choose the presidential and vice presidential candidates it would support in 2016.

Better chance, pawn

Former Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello said Poe had a better chance to succeed President Aquino.

But Bello still sees Poe as a “pawn” of dubious political forces.

“She’s probably better positioned to win than Roxas, who’s got a bad management record and Binay, whose name has become synonymous with corruption,” Bello told the Inquirer in a solicited reaction sent online after Poe officially declared her presidential quest on Wednesday.

‘Front’

However, Bello added that “despite her relatively clean record, she’s being seen as a front for forces with a questionable image.”

He tagged Senator Francis Escudero, “opportunistic as usual”; former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, “corrupt as usual”; and business tycoon and Nationalist People’s Coalition big boss Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco, “the dark force as usual” as the people behind Poe’s candidacy.

Escudero declared yesterday he was seeking the vice presidency as Poe’s running mate.

Bello said the competing factions of the elite in Philippine society had preselected their candidates and were foisting their choices on the people.

He called Poe “the front,” main opposition presidential candidate Binay “the crook,” with strings of corruption allegations against him and his family. He labeled Roxas “the klutz.” With reports from Leila B. Salaverria in Manila and Delfin T. Mallari Jr., Inquirer Southern Luzon

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TAGS: 2016 presidential election, Ang Bahay ng Alumni, Aquino, Benigno Aquino III, Grace Poe, Liberal Party, President Aquino, Sen. Serge Osmeña III
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