There is no chance that President Benigno Aquino 3rd will sideline Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and choose Sen. Grace Poe as the ruling Liberal Party’s standard bearer in 2016, a party-leader said on Monday.
Dasmariñas City Rep. Elpidio Barzaga, External Vice President of the National Union Party that is allied with the Aquino administration, said a Roxas-Poe tandem is more likely.
“I expect the President to pick Secretary Roxas. As the party chairman, you would want your successor to belong with the party. Winnability is important, yes, but it’s still too early to know that [who is the winnable one],” Barzaga said in an interview.
Roxas, who lost the vice presidential race to then Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay in 2010, is LP’s president-on-leave.
“Secretary Mar is tested and qualified. The LP has a solid political machinery, and the President’s choice will be very crucial in forming a formidable lineup which includes bets for vice president and 12 senators,” Barzaga pointed out.
“I see a Mar-Grace tandem, and that would make a credible fight,” he added.
Poe, daughter of the late actor Fernando Poe Jr., topped the 2013 senatorial polls with 20 million votes. In recent surveys, she has been trailing Binay, who had consistently topped presidential polls.
On Monday, Poe admitted having met with Aquino but stressed that she has yet to decide whether or not to seek a higher post next year.
“I cannot say who I’m open to run with because at this point, I’m still considering whether I’m actually going to run,” she told reporters when asked if she is open to run with Roxas.
Poe said Aquino did not ask her to be Roxas’ runningmate.
“We talked about his desire to choose a candidate that can be trusted by the people and the one who can continue the anti-corruption reforms, and introduce programs for the poor,” she said.
When asked if the President may have been referring to her, Poe said it is a possibility.
She said she asked Aquino if she can expect support from LP if ever she is considered for any position.
“The President told me that he has to consult his party for approval. But he would like to make a commitment,” Poe added.
The senator also made it clear that Aquino is not looking for an alternative candidate for LP but an alternative to the candidate of the opposition.
But an LP insider maintained that the president is courting Poe to be Roxas’ runningmate.
The source said the party wants to get Poe in the hope that her popularity will boost Roxas’ chances in 2016.
Malacañang on Monday said LP should not frown on the possibility that the party’s presidential bet may not be an insider.
“What is important is that the reforms or the Daang Matuwid that the President has started will continue,” Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda said.
During a recent talk with Filipino reporters in Canada, Aquino said it is “possible” that he would choose an independent candidate as the standard-bearer of LP in the 2016 elections.
The administration party wants Roxas 2nd to be the administration’s bet for president but Aquino said the decision will be made not by LP alone but by a broad coalition that has been continuously meeting to arrive at a particular candidate.
The President said he hopes that the preferred candidate would be named by the “end of the second quarter” or by June this year.