A six-hour dinner between President Benigno Aquino 3rd and the three possible standard-bearers of the administration party in next year’s elections ended with no one being told who among them is the “chosen one.”
Sen. Grace Poe, who wrested the pre-election presidential survey lead from Vice President Jejomar Binay, on Thursday issued a statement saying they all agreed that the country needs the right leadership to for it to move forward.
“Nagkasundo kami na ang pinakamahalaga ay isaalang-alang ang boses at gabay ng ating mga kababayan upang masigurong hindi ito mawaldas at mapalakas pa ang maayos na paraan ng pamamalakad ng gobyerno sa darating na susunod na anim na taon [We agreed that the most important thing is to consider the voice and guidance of our countrymen to be able to make sure that it will not be wasted and to strengthen good governance in the next six years],” she said in the statement.
Poe made no mention of a possible team-up between her and the Liberal Party’s presumptive candidate for President, Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas 2nd.
Senator Francis Escudero, another dinner guest, in a text message to reporters confirmed Poe’s statement about the agreement to give utmost importance to the voice of the people.
He described the meeting over Chinese food as cordial and relaxed.
“We talked about a lot of things other than 2016. I confirm Senator Poe’s account of the meeting,” Escudero said.
“We ate Chinese,” he added in an attempt to give details on what happened during the dinner, which Poe said started at 7 p.m., Wednesday, and ended at around 1 a.m., Thursday, at the President’s residence called Bahay Pangarap at the Presidential Security Group compound across Malacañang.
Speaking to reporters in Camp Crame (Quezon City), the President said he is already “closer” to choosing his successor
He added that he and his dinner guests agreed to not put “at risk” the reforms he started.
When sked if he was close to deciding who to endorse as the next President, Aquino said, “[I think] the best that I can say at this point, in this minute, is I am closer to that point.”
Analyzing what could have happened while the four officials feasted on Chinese food, political analyst Ramon Casiple said it could be the President’s last attempt to convince Poe to become Roxas’ running mate.
“It was his attempt for a Roxas-Poe tandem,” Casiple added.
But it would be difficult for the President to persuade Poe because there is a big possibility that Poe is eyeing the presidency, he said.
Casiple’s observation is similar to an earlier statement of Sen. Sergio Osmena 3rd, that the President is talking to Poe because he wants her out of the presidential race.
“The President wants Grace out of the presidential picture and to run as the [Vice President] of Mar because he feels that the votes of Grace will go to Mar anyway,” Osmeña said.
A known political strategist, he added that if Poe agrees to run with Roxas next year, the latter will get 60 percent of the senator’s votes while the remaining 40 will be divided among Vice President Jejomar Binay, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and othe bets.
The President, Osmena said, needs to convince Poe, otherwise it would be difficult for him to convince voters to pick his chosen candidate.
But, he added, it would better for Poe to settle for Vice President considering that she is new in politics.
“She [Poe] would make a better President, if she has six years of [being]Vice President, because she’s fairly new in this game. This is not all about national politics and winning the elections,” Osmena said.
But if ever Poe decided to pursue her presidential bid next year, Osmena said, she should not run with the Liberal Party (LP) because of the many negative issues linked to the party.
Congressmen allied with Roxas said he will not easily give up his ambition to follow the footsteps of his grandfather and namesake who was the nation’s leader from 1946 until his death in 1948.
“What he did in 2010 shows his strength of character… that he loves the country more than himself. But I don’t see him backing down from the challenge of the presidency,” House Deputy Minority Leader Carol Lopez of You Against Corruption party-list said.
“I admire his attitude on self-sacrifice but I think it is too early to say that he will give way,” Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone said.
With LLANESCA T. PANTI