SENATOR Grace Poe said Friday she could give no assurances that a consensus on a unified ticket would be reached in her next meeting with President Benigno Aquino III, after a six-hour session at the Palace with Senator Francis Escudero and Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II produced no results Wednesday night.
Despite talk that the President is pressing Poe to run as Roxas’ vice president instead of running for president herself, the neophyte senator said they did not discuss details of who would run for which position in next year’s elections on Wednesday night.
In a text message, Poe said she, Roxas and Escudero will meet again the President but no schedule was given.
Sources said the President would endorse Roxas after delivering his last State-of-the-Nation Address on July 27, and wants Poe to run as his vice president.
While Poe and Escudero said they have not decided about their plans for 2016, observers said there were signs they were preparing for next year’s elections.
In gathering his prospective candidates in the last meetings, the President emphasized the need for the administration coalition to remain intact so that his anti-corruption drive could continue.
While Poe has beaten the opposition’s Vice President Jejomar Binay in the latest opinion polls by Social Weather Stations and Pulse Asia, Binay has topped all the past presidential surveys.
Binay attributed the decline in his standing in the last surveys to the well-orchestrated demolition job intended to pull down his ratings and destroy his presidential bid.
While Poe is the current frontrunner for the presidential race, Escudero has the lead in the vice presidential contest.
But Senator Sergio Osmena III said surveys do not mean much at this time because anything can still happen a few months from now.
Osmeña also poked fun at Aquino’s failure to convince Poe to slide down to vice president and to run under the Liberal banner after so many meetings.
If he could not convince Poe, the President’s power to draw voters for his anointed candidate would be in question, Osmeña added.
Despite the President’s efforts, Osmeña said he believes Poe and Escudero will stick together and team up in 2016.
Poe has said previously that if she decides to run in 2016, she would be more comfortable running with Escudero, a close friend.
The Palace on Friday said the President’s choice as presidential candidate must be honest and have integrity and be capable of continuing the reforms he has started in 2010.
“The primary consideration of the President is the continuation of the reforms he has set in place during his term. It is imperative that good governance must continue to enable Filipinos to reap its benefits. Anyone willing to continue this must be honest, with unquestionable integrity and capable of competently facing the challenges that come with being President,” said deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte, in a text message to the Malacanang Press Corps.
Binay said he believed that Aquino had already made up his mind, but is delaying the announcement of his chosen candidate deliberately.
“Meron nang desisyon ‘yan, dinidribol lang ang opinyon ng tao. Pinapa-salivate kung sino ang gusto nilang ipa-salivate ng magandang balita,” Binay said.
Binay, who is running for president under the United Nationalist Alliance, made to remark while he was in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, the bailiwick of Roxas.
Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said it would be better for Binay to just wait for the announcement of the President.
“It would be better to just wait for the announcement of the President since this is his (Aquino’s) decision,” said Coloma, in a text message.
Coloma also told Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte that it is up to him if he wants to campaign against Roxas if Justice Secretary Leila de Lima will be selected as a senatorial candidate for the Liberal Party.
“It is his decision,” said Coloma.
None of the Palace spokespersons could comment on the substance of the President’s meeting Thursday night with Liberal Party leaders.
But House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, who was at the meeting, said the President told them he advised Poe and Roxas to do consultations and reflect on their political plans for 2016 to ensure that the administration will have one, strong standard bearer in the upcoming polls. With Sandy Araneta
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