Escudero: Aquino clean on anti-Poe hits
President Benigno Aquino III has nothing to do with the attacks mounted by his party mates and allies against Sen. Grace Poe, her running mate, Sen. Francis Escudero, believes.
As such, Escudero sees no need to talk to Mr. Aquino, his friend, to get his allies to back off Poe in their attempts to get her out of the presidential race.
“In my view, President Aquino has no personal involvement in the steps taken against Senator Poe. If anything, it’s the people under him who are campaigning for and are solidly behind the candidate he anointed. But as for he himself, I do not see his hand or any move of his regarding the matter,” Escudero told reporters on Friday at a Senate forum.
Poe, who is running for president as an independent, is facing a string of disqualification cases in the Commission on Elections. The complaints contend she is not a natural-born citizen since she is a foundling, and she does not meet the 10-year residency rule since she lived in the United States.
Poe and Escudero have blamed her rivals, including the camp of Liberal Party standard bearer Mar Roxas, for the attempts to disqualify her.
But Escudero said he was confident the President was not involved in the efforts to bring down Poe.
“Understand that he is not helping in this. It’s enough for me because, of course, there is some ill feeling from the other side that he is not helping to achieve this,” Escudero said.
As for Mr. Aquino’s recent twitting of Roxas’ rivals when he was in Rome, Escudero noted that the President commented on each candidate but not on whether Poe could run or not.
Escudero said his friendship with Mr. Aquino remained, although they last talked when the President was trying to convince Poe to be Roxas’ running mate.
“He has kept a respectful distance and so have I,” the senator said.
He surmised they would next talk when the elections are over.
Escudero meanwhile noted that only one more vote was needed in the Comelec en banc to disqualify Poe, which was why their camp was not pinning their hopes on the poll agency.
Three election commissioners belonging to one division had already ruled to disqualify Poe for not meeting the residency requirement.
Escudero said their next move, should the Comelec rule against Poe, would be to run to the Supreme Court.
He said that based on the Supreme Court’s 2004 ruling in the case against Poe’s adoptive father, Fernando Poe Jr., she should be allowed to run.
The elder Poe also faced a challenge to his candidacy for president over questions of his citizenship.
In the 2004 decision, the high court essentially ruled that the people should be allowed to decide and Fernando Poe Jr. should be allowed to run, Escudero said.