Mar woos Grace; Grace says maybe

INTERIOR and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II invited Senator Grace Poe  Wednesday  on national television to be his running mate when he seeks the presidency in 2016, but the neophyte senator could only ask him to wait some more.

“We are inviting, the party is indeed inviting, and I’m very much open to the possibility of having Senator Grace Poe join us in our tandem, to join our movement, in our fight to continue and expand the ‘straight path’,” Roxas said in a television interview on GMA-7.

Reaction. Senator Grace Poe reacts to Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II’s request that she be his vice presidential running mate in the 2016 elections. Macon Ramos-Araneta
Roxas said he had asked Poe to be his running mate on several occasions, even before President Benigno Aquino III had endorsed him as the Liberal Party standard bearer  on Friday.

He said Poe may have thought it was not a formal offer because he had yet been endorsed at the time.

Reacting to the offer, Poe said she was thankful but apologized for taking a long time to decide.

“We still have until October. I don’t want to them in a compromise because I am still deciding. It’s up to them if they still want to wait and I’m thankful for [their] opening the door to me,” Poe said.

Roxas’ invitation came as a defeated senatorial candidate in 2010 and 2013, Rizalito David, filed a petition before the Senate Electoral Tribunal in Quezon City in a bid to unseat Poe.

David questioned Poe’s citizenship and said she was not qualified to sit as a senator because she was not a natural-born citizen of the Philippines. He failed to pay the P50,000 docket fee required for his case to go forward, however.

Poe said attempts to belittle her and destroy her only emboldened her to “fight for her cause,” but again refused to say if she would seek the presidency in 2016.

“This is not only for my cause but for others. And now, they want to put me down. But if I give up, who will lose their rights here? Are they not the children who also fail to identify their parents? And who would prevail here? Are they not those [from the old political system]? Are we going to allow them to lead us after the end of this administration? It would not seem right,” she said.

Poe, who has topped the most recent presidential surveys, said her parents, actors Fernando Poe Jr. and Susar Roces, taught her to be brave but not boastful.

In dealing with personal attacks and false accusations being hurled against her, Poe said she exercises self control and gets courage from prayers, her loyal friends and family and her dream for the country in which everyone should be equal.

She said the tirades against her drove her harder to push for her advocacies.

“I am preparing more for all the legal challenges that might come. I pity my (late) father because during his time, he did not have enough preparations. And he didn’t know, there was already a charge filed in court against him,” she said.

She asserted that she has all the documents to counter allegations that she is disqualified to run for president over questions on her citizenship and residency.

Upon the advice of her lawyer, she said, she would release these documents once the cases are filed in court and there is an order to present them.

Poe would not say who she believed were behind the demotion job against her, but said she would not be distracted from her job.

While President did not categorically asked Poe to join the unified ticket, the number 1 senator in the 2013 senatorial race said she feels Aquino wanted her to be their vice presidential bet.

Since Roxas is a friend, Poe said she is always willing to meet with him.

“But I’m telling you this, we are already preparing the platform of government and our promises to the people. Until the time that we’re done with this, I cannot tell you because we are thoroughly studying and scrutinizing how can I comply with these promises,” she said.

Poe also debunked reports that said she was an alcoholic and a drug addict who went into rehab, or tht she had mauled anyone. She said all these were aimed at impugning her credibility.

“If you are on the side of truth, you should not be afraid,” Poe said.

Poe said she drinks beer or white wine at parties, but that does not make her a drunkard.

Also, as the chairman of the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs, she has been pushing to strengthen drug rehabilitation efforts to help drug addicts—but she is not among them, she said.

On the program Unang Hirit on GMA-7, Roxas said: “Hi Senator Grace, I was asked at Unang Hirit about this and this is what I’ve told them. Just informing you so you’ll hear it from me straight.”

Roxas said the ruling Liberal Party is also considering asking Batangas Gov. Vilma Santos or Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo to be his running mate.

“All of them have their own experience, competency and compassion for our countrymen and for our nation,” Roxas said.

“What we want for a vice-president is someone who is focused ‘to the bones’ and believes in the straight path, which we see in Senator Grace, Governor Vilma and Congresswoman Leni,” he added.

Two opposition lawmakers dismissed as a demolition job the draft complaint filed by David.

Reps. Silvestre Bello III of 1-BAP party-list and Rodolfo Albano III of Isabela, both stalwarts of the House minority bloc, belittled the draft complaint as a preemptive move against the senator’s presidential aspirations.

Opinions are split on whether Poe could help Roxas, who has consistently trailed in most opinion surveys, get the votes in 2016.

Political analyst Ramon Casiple said Poe could not help Roxas win because she has no “comman votes” of her own.

Casiple said Poe’s command votes came from her late father and these were not transferrable to her running mate.

Roxas, he said, would have a hard time beating his arch-rival Vice President Jejomar Binay and whoever would be supported by Manila City Mayor Joseph Estrada because the two have “command votes.”

Casiple pegged Binay’s command votes nationwide at a “formidable” 20 percent or more.

“Based on our electoral history, we never had such an experience that the vice presidential bet has made the standard bearer win. Based on our experience, every time there is election, the presidency and the vice presidency are separate,” Casiple said.

“The best that the popular vice presidential bet can do for her standard bearer is when they go together during sorties, people would definitely come because the vice presidential bet is popular. So the presidential bet can also speak to the audience. But if the latter cannot connect to the audience, then nothing is gained,” Casiple said.

Casiple said there was no logic in saying that Poe would make Roxas win because she was popular.

This would leave Roxas relianto on “the yellow crowd” that has remained loyal to President Aquino, but this “magic” has deminished over the last five yeas, he said. – With Christine F. Herrera . Maricel V. Cruz and Rio N. Araja

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