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Shahanis of Pangasinan backing Grace-Chiz tandem

/ 05:36 AM March 31, 2016

ASINGAN, Pangasinan—The Shahanis of this province yesterday endorsed Senators Grace Poe and Francis Escudero for President and Vice President, respectively, and debunked claims by the town’s top official of a “solid north” vote for vice presidential aspirant Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Former Sen. Leticia Ramos-Shahani, sister of former President Fidel V. Ramos, and her son Ranjit, a member of the provincial board, urged residents here to support the Poe-Escudero tandem.

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But Asingan Mayor Heidee Chua, citing the so-called “solid north,”  said she was backing Poe and Marcos, who, she added, have strong support in the town.

The Shahanis and Chua shared the stage with Poe and Escudero during a mini rally in Asingan on Wednesday, with the mayor welcoming the tandem to her town.

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“It’s about the Ilocano people having the unity to work together as one,” Chua told reporters.

No repeat of martial law

But Shahani, interviewed after the rally, disputed Chua’s claims about the “solid north” vote.

“I’m an Ilocano and (former President) Ferdinand Marcos was my second cousin, but it does not mean (that) automatically, we’ll vote Marcos,” the veteran lawmaker said.

She and many other Ilocanos would not want a repeat of the late dictator’s martial law rule, Shahani said. “We have other priorities, and I think our experience under martial law was not good and I hope it does not come back. I’m sure many Ilocanos share that,” she added.

In deciding to support Poe, Shahani said she would like to have more women leading the country, as women “are less selfish, less egoistic than men.”

She added: “Maybe some men will not like what I say, but it’s true because we (women) think of our children, we think of other people. And when you are in politics, you do not think about just yourself but also others. That’s my experience as a politician.”

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Bright person

As for Escudero, Shahani described the vice presidential candidate as a bright person.  She knew his father, the late Sorsogon Rep. Salvador Escudero, when they led the agriculture committees in the legislature, the former United Nations envoy said, and the younger Escudero had inherited his father’s sense of humor.

“I think they would make a good pair,” Shahani said of the Poe-Escudero tandem.

The former senator said she did not consult her brother, the former President, about her decision to back the Poe-Escudero ticket as the two of them were independent of each other. She did not tell Ramos about her visit to Asingan, and surmised that he would be surprised when he gets wind of the news, Shahani said.

The senator said she and her son were concerned about the country and would like to have good politicians leading it. The Philippines can be a great country, but Filipinos can sometimes be laid-back and too spoiled, she added.

This was not the first time local politicians expressed divided loyalty over the Poe-Escudero tandem. Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada recently endorsed Poe, but not Escudero, and expressed support for the young Marcos instead.

Local support is deemed crucial for candidates running for national posts, as local officials are expected to mobilize support for them.

Solid team-up

Pangasinan, the home province of Poe’s father, action star Fernando Poe Jr., is one of the vote-rich areas in the country, with 1.7 million registered voters.

Escudero on Wednesday said despite the unequal endorsements he and Poe had been getting, their team-up and friendship remained solid.

Poe’s running mate also denied speculations that there was friction between their two camps, and said campaigning separately meant covering a lot of ground despite their tight schedules.

Asked if his and Poe’s camp could have a “Balay-Samar” divide, or factions in the team, as had happened in President Aquino’s camp in the 2010 elections, Escudero said “there should be nothing like this in the next government.”

He added: “We have not won yet, we are still campaigning, and I think we should learn a lesson from that.”

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TAGS: Chiz Escudero, Elections 2016, Fidel V. Ramos, Grace Poe, Leticia Ramos-Shahani, Ranjit Shahani, Shahani
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