Ruling party splinter group to back Grace, Chiz
STALWARTS of the Liberal Party (LP), including President Benigno Aquino 3rd, are considering shifting their support to the tandem of Senators Grace Poe and Francis “Chiz” Escudero if the team-up of Manuel “Mar” Roxas 2nd and Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo will not take off in the next surveys, according to sources from the group of Poe and the Palace.
The sources said Poe and Escudero will be the administration’s “spare tire” if the survey ratings of Roxas and Robredo will not improve.
A lawyer involved in the campaign of Poe and Escudero said many big names in the LP and local administration bets are expected to “abandon ship” and shift their allegiance to the two lawmakers.
“Local government officials under the LP are also waiting for all projects to be closed so their constituents will not suffer when they eventually throw their public support behind their real candidate,” said the source, who spoke on condition that he will not be named.
“Marami ring LP ang pinalitan ni Mar, ginawang LP ang mga incumbent. Sigurista. Pero palpak. Mas lalong dumami kaaway [There are a lot of LP members dropped by Mar, incumbent officials were made LP candidates. He wanted to be sure but he erred. Now he has more enemies],” the source added.
He explained that these LP bets were disheartened when Roxas and his group decided to replace LP incumbents with their own selected candidates, especially in the provinces.
The source said the reason why Poe is running as an independent is so that she could be readily adopted by the LP splinter group, mostly composed of members identified with the so-called Samar group.
The Balay and Samar factions separately campaigned for Roxas and Vice President Jejomar Binay, respectively, during the 2010 polls.
For this year’s electoral exercise, the camp of Roxas continues to hold quarters on Balay Street in Quezon City.
The source said “operators” of the Samar group are working under the radar.
A Palace official who asked not to be identified confirmed that Aquino is most likely to back Escudero if Robredo will continue to wallow in the vice presidential surveys.
He said the President’s “greatest fear” is that Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. will win the vice presidential race.
“If Leni will continue to lag behind and Marcos overtakes Chiz, Pnoy [President Aquino] will not allow it. Naturally, he will go for Chiz who has been his friend. It’s anybody but Bongbong for him and we know exactly the reason why,” the official told The Manila Times.
Sought for comment on the Times’ sources’ claims, Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said Aquino still trusts that Roxas and Robredo will continue to gain wide public support as the May 2016 elections near.
“President Aquino is steadfast in his endorsement and support for the Roxas-Robredo team. He believes that both candidates are steadily gaining public support being the most capable to promote and solidify the gains under daang matuwid,” he told The Manila Times in a separate interview.
Daang matuwid (straight path) is the good-governance mantra of the Aquino administration.
In the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey released last week, Vice President Jejomar Binay regained his post as top contender for the presidential race, jumping from 26 percent in December 2015 to 31 percent in January.
Poe slid to second place with 24 percent after.
She and Binay tied statistically for the top spot in the December 2015 survey report.
Roxas ranked third with 21 percent, followed by Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte with 20 percent.
Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago occupied the bottom spot with three percent.
In the Pulse Asia survey for the vice presidential race late last year, Escudero was the top bet with 28 percent, followed closely by Marcos with 25 percent.
Robredo, meanwhile, got 17 percent while Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano got a rating of 14 percent.
In the January survey of the SWS, Escudero was the top choice of most of the respondents.
His rating of 28 percent, however, was lower than the 30 percent he garnered late last year.
Marcos, who ranked second, had the biggest gain, for his December rating of 19 percent jumped to 25 percent in January, overtaking Robredo who used to top the vice presidential surveys.
In the SWS survey, Robredo was a far third with a rating of 17 percent, two percentage points lower than her 19 percent in December.