If it were all up to him, President Benigno Aquino 3rd said, it is “possible” that he would choose an independent candidate as the standard-bearer of his Liberal Party (LP) in the 2016 elections.
The LP wants Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas 2nd to become the administration’s bet for President in next year’s polls.
But Aquino, when asked in a recent chat with reporters during his trip to Canada if he still feels the same for Roxas, curtly remarked, ”Siguro [Maybe].”
Aquino earlier admitted to meeting with Sen. Grace Poe on electoral matters on which he did not elaborate.
The LP has been perceived to be courting the evidently popular Poe to be its standard-bearer or the top pick’s running mate.
The President said he hopes that the preferred candidate would be named by the “end of the second quarter” or by June this year.
He, however, pointed out that it is a broad coalition, not he alone, that is still scouting for someone who should replace him and one who can continue his reform agenda.
“I’m open to all possibilities. Teka muna [Wait], let me correct that, almost all possibilities. Meron naman talagang hindi ko mako-consider [kung hindi niya]kayang ituloy ‘yung [I would not consider one who can’t continue my] reform agenda,” Aquino said during the recent chat with the reporters.
“Actually, it [scouting]is still ongoing. Our coalition we think is very, very broad. You have the non-governmental organizations, the civil society organizations, various peoples’ organizations, established political parties who are part and parcel of this whole coalition,” according to the President.
“Talagang lalakas ang tulak o pangangampanya ng kung sino man ang mapili ng buong samahang ito [Whoever is selected as the standard-bearer can depend on a strong and vigorous campaign by the coalition]. So [the]number one challenge [is to ]keep it intact and keep everybody focused, [what is the]lowest common denominator? That there is a reform agenda and this reform agenda has resulted in so many results and we want to continue the same,” he said.
“So, at the very least, I think we owe it to all partners to get their inputs in determining who should be the one to carry on the mantle of this country toward a goal,” Aquino added.
He revealed that the last time he consulted the broad coalition was the day before he left for his trip to the US and Canada last week.
Meanwhile, the President maintained that his endorsement still has a lot of weight despite a recent drop in his ratings.
“If we judge it by the attacks that are still the same if not even more vociferous from my critics, then I think even my critics will say that the endorsement value is still present,” he explained.
“I will challenge anybody to look at any President before me [who]at the last portion of his term is still being attacked to this degree. It seems like common sense if my endorsement value is worthless, why bother spending time attacking me?” Aquino said.
He expressed optimism that his ratings will recover, stressing that the Mamasapano tragedy that dampened his performance in the surveys will eventually lead to the public thinking that “anybody in [a]similar situation will react in the same [way that I did when the facts were given to me after the incident].”
“We are very confident [that]the numbers will pick up,” the President said.
“But at the end of the day, my main point was for me to have been able to lead the country at this level, I was given that chance by our people. They were the ones who made it all possible, therefore they are the ones who have made all the reforms that have happened so far. They are responsible for it, and to continue it also will rest on their ability to discern the proper candidate [for President in the 2016 elections],” he added.