NAGA CITY—Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II denied Tuesday having any role in the cases filed against Senator Grace Poe over her qualifications to hold public office.
In an interview on the sidelines of ceremonies marking his predecessor’s third death anniversary, Roxas said he did not know the petitioner Rizalino David, and did not recall meeting him.
“I would like to clarify, eye to eye. I do not know Rizalino David. I have no recollection of him or of even knowing him. We (Liberal Party) have nothing to do (with him). I have nothing to do about the cases he has filed against Senator Grace (Poe),” Roxas said.
Roxas met Poe Sunday night at her Greenhills residence and invited her to be his running mate, but the senator told the Liberal Party standard bearer that he should not wait for her, and confronted him with information that his men were behind the attacks against her.
Roxas said he told Poe he was willing to have his people face the senator and offer her their assurances.
“We respect her decision. According to her, she is not yet ready to make a decision,” Roxas said Tuesday.
“However, I have an obligation to the coalition, to the President, and all those who believe in daang matuwid to create a strong ticket, a strong candidacy to continue, fight for daang matuwid,” he said.
Roxas also has not ruled out inviting Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo to run as his vice presidential running mate, saying she has the integrity, ability and experience needed for the position.
Robredo, however, has said she has no interest in running for vice president in 2016 and would seek re-election as a congresswoman.
On Tuesday, an ally of President Benigno Aquino III, Mindoro Oriental Rep. Reynaldo Umali, said Roxas should take the cue from Poe and find another running mate.
“That’s my reading (that Poe will not join Roxas),” Umali said. “Every time we talk about this, she has something negative to say, and I think that’s like looking for a reason not to be part of LP.”
Umali, the ruling Liberal Party’s national political council deputy spokesman, also criticized Poe for her lack of political experience.
“Except for popularity, there is nothing much to show,” he said of the senator.
“Senator Grace came in 2013. Three years is too short of time to say that she is ready,” he added.
Umali also denied Poe’s claim that some of Roxas’ party mates and allies were stabbing her in the back.
Senator Francis Escudero vowed Tuesday to support Poe whether she decides to run for president or vice president in 2016.
He refused to comment, however, on Roxas’ effort to recruit Poe as his running mae.
“I’m not aware of the (Roxas and Poe) meeting,” he said, adding that there was no need for the senator to inform or update him on her plans in connection with next year’s elections.
Escudero, who is the presumed running mate of Poe should she decide to run for president, asked members of the media to wait for the official announcement from those running next year. – With Joel Zurbano
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