Poe, Escudero bare senatorial slate
A motley assortment of veteran “common candidates” shared with other parties and “exclusives” makes up presidential aspirant Sen. Grace Poe’s senatorial slate which she says is united in helping improve the country, although each of them has different ideas on how to achieve this.
Poe and her running mate, Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero, who are both running as independents, presented their senatorial lineup at the historic Club Filipino in Greenhills, San Juan City, calling the group Partido Galing at Puso, or Team GP.
The common candidates are Sen. Vicente Sotto III, former Sen. Richard Gordon, migrant workers advocate Susan Ople, and former Bukidnon Rep. Juan Miguel Zubiri, who are also in the lineup of the United Nationalist Alliance; Sen. Ralph Recto, also with the administration’s Daang Matuwid team; and Manila Vice Mayor Isko Moreno, who has bagged the endorsement of the presidential tandem of Senators Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
The candidates exclusive to Team GP are Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, Pasig Rep. Roman Romulo, ACT-CIS Rep. Samuel Pagdilao, Valenzuela Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian, actor and TV host Edu Manzano, and lawyer Lorna Kapunan.
Recto was the only no-show in the event yesterday, but he sent his son Ryan Christian as his representative. Recto earlier said that he would be thankful if he would be included in the Poe-Escudero slate, but he would be supporting the Liberal Party’s own candidates.
What distinguishes the candidates in her slate is not just their excellence, but also their compassion for the downtrodden, Poe said.
“In forming this group, our guide was the belief that it was not enough to be excellent and smart to serve the government. What is important is that you have the heart and compassion for your fellow man especially the poor and needy,” she said.
The President alone could not solve the country’s problems and would need allies who would help bring about change, she added.
No common viewpoint
But she also said she would not require her candidates to share a common viewpoint.
“We are not forming one group which only has a single viewpoint. We have to have our own positions and advocacies, but we should not differ in our love and concern for the country,” she said after introducing the candidates.
“We would not dictate what you should do. The only thing we would dictate is that you should be honest and you should serve the people,” she added.
“We have no conditions,” Poe later told reporters, “We believe we chose them because they could do something in the Senate regardless of which party they join. Of course, we would prefer that they endorse us.”
She added that she would not do to Team GP what she experienced when she ran for the Senate in 2013. At that time, she and Escudero were among the common candidates of the administration and opposition party, but the latter dropped them after they failed to join its proclamation rally and subsequent sorties.
“We know how much it hurts when you get an official endorsement and then you would suddenly be removed [from the list],” she said.
Poe also sang the praises of her chosen candidates as she explained why she picked them.
Sotto said he was looking forward to returning to the Senate because there would be more debates to join and people to protect. He also acknowledged his close friendship with Poe’s father, the late Fernando Poe Jr., who he said would have wanted him and Poe to work together.
Romulo, who had authored bills to improve access to tertiary education, said he planned to work on other crucial legislation such as the freedom of information bill and the measure to bring down income taxes.
Kapunan, a lawyer for 38 years, said she planned to bring courage, competence and integrity to the Senate. She would fight for an honest government, one that does not engage in selective justice. She also wanted to bring about more opportunities for Filipinos to prosper.
Colmenares said he would continue the push for income tax reform, higher wages, lower power and water rates, and land reform. He also said he would not shy away from criticizing the United States and China.
Gatchalian said he wanted better education services for children and better job opportunities for the people. The country should have a government which helps everybody, not just a few, he said.
Zubiri said integrity was important in a public official, and said he was never involved in any corruption issue.
Pagdilao, a retired police official, said he would focus on peace and order issues to make Filipinos feel safe and to give them a peaceful life. He also said he wishes to help ordinary Filipinos prosper.
Gordon pushed for higher wages for teachers, which would in turn lead to better educated students. The same should be given to nurses and doctors to improve the delivery of services to people. Election reform and tourism are also crucial areas that need improvement, which could be done through legislation, he added.
Compassion and heart
Manzano said he wants to strengthen the Filipino family. Stronger families would lead to fewer drug dependents and can address other social ills, he said. He also planned to reduce the number of overseas Filipino workers by creating more job opportunities and improving social services in the country.
Moreno said he understood the hardships that the poor are going through because he himself came from humble beginnings. As a senator, he said he will work to help impoverished Filipinos achieve their dream of a better life.
Ople spoke of the need to improve government services for overseas workers. They are often dubbed the new heroes, but the government cannot even protect them from scammers such as those behind the “laglag-bala” modus, or provide them with lawyers when they are in trouble abroad, she said.
“We are confident that if elected, they will add value to the Senate,” said Cebu Rep. Ace Durano, the campaign manager of Team GP.
“As a group, they represent our battle cry that this is not just about capability, but compassion and heart. That’s what we need,” he added. “As individuals, they are all highly accomplished.”
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