RESIDENT Benigno Aquino 3rd wants the administration coalition to stay united and back one common candidate for President in the 2016 elections even if he is yet to make up his mind on who to support in next year’s polls.
This was his message Senators Francis “Chiz” Escudero and Grace Poe during their meeting in Malacanang on Thursday where they discussed 2016 balloting and other issues.
Escudero said the President did not make any specific offer to him or to Poe about running for a higher position or ask for their support in next year’s elections but he wished for the ruling coalition to remain intact.
He added that Aquino wanted to let him and Poe know that he wants to have a unified ticket in 2016 that will be supported by members of the administration coalition who were with him since 2010.
“But the President did not offer us anything. The President also did not ask us to support a particular candidate,” Escudero said in an interview with reporters on Friday.
The meeting on Thursday lasted for more than four hours.
Escudero was the first to arrive in Malacanang while Poe came in an hour and a half later.
Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd, the presumptive standard-bearer of the Liberal Party (LP) in 2016, was not there in the meeting.
Escudero, however, said the President is planning to call another meeting before he delivers his State-of-the-Nation-Address (SONA) this month and Roxas will be joining them.
He added that Aquino told them that he does not want a repeat of an incident in 1992 where the administration coalition disbanded and came up with their respective standard- bearers going against then-President Corazon Aquino’s anointed one, Fidel V. Ramos.
Joining Ramos in the 1992 presidential race were Sen. Miriam Santiago, Eduardo Cojuangco Jr., former House Speaker Ramon Mitra, former Sen. Jovito Salonga and former Vice President Salvador Laurel, who were also former allies of the Aquino administration.
Former First lady Imelda Marcos also joined the contest.
When asked if he is willing to help keep the administration coalition intact, Escudero said it is not for him to keep the coalition intact.
The President also told to the two senators his wish to have his reform agenda sustained by the next leader of the country.
The LP is rumored to be courting Poe to be the running mate of Roxas in 2016 but Poe remained undecided on her political plans next year.
Poe and Escudero are leading the presidential and vice presidential surveys, respectively, and have been discussing the possibility of teaming up in 2016.
No candidate yet
Meanwhile, the President admitted to Escudero that he has not made any decision on who
to endorse as presidential candidate in 2016.
LP members, however, earlier said Roxas is the party’s standard-bearer.
“The reason why the President continues to meet and consult others is that he has not yet decided on who to choose,” Escudero said.
Poe, in a statement, confirmed that she was in the meeting and discussed the 2016 elections but only to the extent of hopefully having a united ticket.
“No specific commitments or positions were mentioned. We will meet again as part of a continued consultation process,” she said.