Grace, Chiz go on the stump

SENATORS Grace Poe and Francis Escudero visited a bailiwick of the Nationalist People’s Coalition in South Cotabato over the weekend – their first public appearance together after a six-hour meeting with President Benigno Aquino III on the 2016 elections on Wednesday.

Poe, in her speech during the 16th T’nalak Festival and 49th anniversary of the province, took a shot at her critics who have questioned her lack of experience, comparing her to potential rivals Vice President Jejomar Binay and Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II.

Best of friends. Senator Grace Poe gives her fellow senator Francis
Escudero a kiss before a session in the Senate earlier this year.
“My capital that afforded me the chance to serve the people are the memories of my father, FPJ (the late actor Fernando Poe Jr.) and the teachings of my mother. I carry with me their good reputation,” she said.

“I have learned from FPJ that you need to be honest, you need to help your countrymen, and you need to be brave without being boastful. I have learned from my mother how to be a good housewife who supports her spouse and takes care of the family,” she added.

“These are things that cannot be learned in a week, in a day, or in a year. These values are learned from when you are young,” Poe said.

“Some have said that a leader must have the right experience and right skills. I believe that. But it is also important that a leader has the heart and loyalty to his or her countrymen. What will we do with a leader who is very intelligent but does not have the interest of the people at heart?”

Poe, who has expressed her preference to partner with Escudero once she decides to seek the presidency next year, is being pitted against Roxas as standard bearer of the administration coalition.

While Roxas remains the presumptive standard bearer of the Liberal Party, he has remained in the fourth spot in recent surveys among possible presidential candidates, way behind Poe who has taken over the top spot from Binay.

Escudero, for his part, exhorted the voters of South Cotabato to remember the saying of Jose Rizal, the country’s national hero, in whatever they do.

“He who does not know how to look back at where he came from will never get to his destination,” Escudero said.

Poe also thanked the residents of South Cotabato for their support when she ran for senator in 2013, landing in the top spot among other candidates in the province.

She said the province has a special place in the heart of the Poe family as her father also won in the area in his failed presidential bid in 2004.

On Friday, Poe said there was still no assurance that a consensus on a unified ticket would be reached in her next meeting with the President.

For his part, Senator Sergio Osmena III 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, Osmeña said the President’s power to draw voters for his anointed candidate would be in question.

Osmeña said he believes Poe and Escudero will stick together and team up in 2016 despite efforts to stop the partnership from the Palace.

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