MEMBERS of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) will support Sen. Grace Poe if she decides to run for higher office in 2016 to repay a “debt of gratitude” to her late father, the late actor Fernando Poe Jr.
Valenzuela City Mayor Rex Gatchalian, spokesman of the NPC, said most NPC members supported the elder Poe when he ran for president in 2004. Their association with Poe also helped many of them succeed in their respective electoral bids.
“A lot of NPC members want to pay debt of gratitude for what her father did,” Gatchalian said in a television interview.
The NPC is the second biggest political party next to the Liberal Party (LP) in terms of members occupying elective positions. The party was formed in late 1989 to serve as the political vehicle of industrialist Eduardo Cojuangco Jr. who ran for president in 1992.
The younger Poe, who is leading recent pre-election surveys for president and vice president, reportedly remains undecided whether to take a crack at the presidency or pair up with Liberal Party standard bearer, Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd.
Poe, together with her presumptive runningmate, Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero, attended a “fellowship” of NPC party members on Tuesday night in Quezon City.
Poe on Wednesday told reporters there was no discussion about the 2016 elections in the “fellowship party”. She however admitted that there were individuals who encouraged her to take advantage of her popularity and run for president.
“I think a lot of them were encouraging and supportive [of me]. The pledge is more on individual capacities from a lot of their members. Pero ang hiningi ko sa kanila, ano ba ang puwedeng gawin, lalo na sa local government…kung anong proyekto sa agrkiultura, irigasyon, post-harvest facilities ang kailangan nila dahil hindi ito mabilis gawin. Para maaga pa lang pinag-aaralan na para maplano,” Poe added.
Hours before the NPC gathering, congressmen affiliated with the party had a meeting with Roxas.
Gatchalian said that while the NPC has been in talks with the LP to strengthen its coalition, some members are supportive of Vice President Jejomar Binay, who will banner the United Natonalist Alliance in 2016.
Poe on Wednesday said the NPC will play a big role in whatever bid she decides to pursue next year.
“Malaking bagay ang suporta ng NPC. Sila ay nationwide, marami sa kanila nakasama na ni FPJ…sila ay mga governor, congressman na makakasama natin kung saka sakali (The NPC’s support would be a big help. They have members nationwide and have been with FPJ…they have governors, congressmen, who will be our partners in case we proceed further),” Poe said.
Escudero, who is mulling a Vice Presidential run in 2016 as Poe’s running mate, echoed Poe’s sentiments that NPC support would be crucial.
“We will decide separately, but it (NPC support) would be a factor. Wala siyang (Grace) pera, makinarya, so malaking bagay iyon sa pagpapasya (She is not moneyed…she does not have the machinery, so the NPC support will be a factor in her decision making),” Escudero added.
Escudero, however, clarified that the NPC is not pressuring him and Poe to run for the top two highest elective posts in 2016.
“Wala akong hiningi [sa kanila]…walang binigay….walang pag pressure. (I did not ask anything from them and they did not give anything in return). It is an honor for Senator Poe and myself to be invited here and considered. The mood is happy and light,” Escudero who used to be an NPC member before bolting the party in 2009, added.