A SENIOR member of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) said Wednesday the party will “very likely” throw its support behind Senator Grace Poe because it would no longer be a “second-class citizen” in an alliance with other political parties.
“Because Grace is an independent candidate, it’s very inviting for the NPC to support her because we will be the lead political party,” said Senator Vicente Sotto.
“You must remember that other members think that if we support the candidate of another political party, we might become second-class citizens to the [United Nationalist Alliance] or any other political party,” he added.
In a statement, Sotto also said he believed the people would be better served if Poe continued the vision of her father, actor Fernando Poe Jr., who ran for president but lost under the slogan “Bayan ang Bida (The Country Comes First).”
Running as an independent will also free her from special and political interests and will therefore put her in a better position to fight for the poor—which is what her father would have wanted, Sotto added.
The senior NPC member said he believed that the senator would be an “easy sell” to voters because of her inherent qualities from her adoptive parents.
“Grace won’t be a hard sell,” he said. “It’s easy to campaign for her. She’s fresh, she’s sincere, she’s tough.”
Also on Wednesday, Poe said that she bears in mind the lessons taught to her by her late father, as a response to Sotto’s appeal.
“Yes, Yes. With FPJ before, our country is always the first. That’s what I’ve been considering, even at the very start. What would be best for our countrymen because we do have many dreams for our nation that we need to push further,” said Poe.
Poe said that she will still remain as an independent despite offers from the Liberal Party and the United Nationalist Alliance.
“Yes, because I don’t have any party even before. If there would be people who will support me, as “We’ve run before in a coalition but we’re not a member of any political party. In my work in the Senate, I do have many friends in the different political parties but I still remain faithful to my work,” Poe added.
Poe is expected to meet NPC local officials after meeting with NPC lawmakers from the Visayas and Mindanao Tuesday night.
Earlier, she and Senator Francis Escudero met with NPC officials from Luzon at the residence of the party’s founder, Eduardo Cojuangco Jr., in Quezon City.
In a chance interview, Poe said most of those who attended the meetings expressed their support for her candidacy.
She added that she felt more encouraged to run for president after the second meeting.
Poe has been leading the latest presidential and vice presidential surveys for the 2016 elections. The neophyte senator has not yet declared her intention to run for either position.
Escudero, tagged as the most likely vice presidential candidate if Poe runs for president, said he will support whatever decision Poe will make.
The NPC is the second biggest political party after the Liberal Party, which is pushing the presidential bid of Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II.
To date, the NPC has two senators, 44 congressmen, 14 governors, 22 city mayors and 217 municipal mayors.
Earlier, at least 12 members of the NPC - all members of the House of Representatives - met with Roxas at the LP’s Balay headquarters in Cubao, Quezon City.
Also on Wednesday, the Magdalo party-list group said it will support Poe if she runs for president.
Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano said this was the result of an internal survey of the group’s chapters natiowide.
The Magdalo group is composed of disgruntled soldiers who participated in the failed mutiny against former president and Pampanga Rep. Gloria-Macapagal Arroyo in 2003.
Earlier, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, the founding chairman of the group, declared his group’s support a Poe candidacy, even though he is a member of the Nacionalista Party.
Poe thanked the former mutineers.
“I thank Senator Antonio Trillanes and the Magdalo for their declaration of support. Wherever politics leads us, I am one with their advocacy and dedication to honestly serve the country,” she said.
The Palace said Wednesday some quarters are trying to drive a wedge between Roxas and Poe.
Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda also said that they believe that Poe is a Filipino citizen, and denied the LP is the one bankrolling the suits against Poe.
“Mar Roxas already said he believes she is a Filipino. It makes no sense for us to invite her to be VP and at the same time attack her,” said Lacierda.
Roxas denied Tuesday having any role in the cases filed against 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,” 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.
An election lawyer on Wednesday said David, who filed complaints against Poe with the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) and the Commission on Elections, was guilty of forum shopping, which could lead to a dismissal of the cases. – With Maricel V. Cruz, Vito Barcelo, Sandy Araneta, Rey E. Requejo and PNA
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