Still playing coy, Grace willing to meet Roxas
Resigned Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas 2nd on Wednesday publicly asked pre-election survey frontrunner Sen. Grace Poe to be his running mate in next year’s elections.
In one live television interview, Roxas said it would be better for the country if he won the presidential race with the first-time senator as his Vice President.
He added that he considers Poe as his best running mate, pointing to her plus factor to continue the Aquino administration’s daang matuwid (straight path) good governance mantra.
Roxas and Poe earlier vowed to continue the reforms gained under the Aquino administration’s straight- path program.
“We now have a solid foundation. We had a good start and we can now continue moving forward. If we change directions now, we’ll be back to zero,” Roxas said in Filipino.
In another live TV interview, the Liberal Party (LP) standard-bearer openly invited Poe to become his running mate.
“We’re inviting Sen. Grace Poe to join us. Join us in continuing the daang matuwid,” he said in the morning public affairs program “Unang Hirit.”
Poe said she is open to meet with Roxas.
“I first heard of his invitation to meet through media also this morning. Prior to that we have not spoken about it,” the senator told reporters in a text message.
“I am always open to meet Secretary Roxas as a friend. But there is no particular date arranged,” she added
Roxas–the presumptive 2016 standard-bearer of the Liberal Party from Day 1 of the Aquino administration –was formally endorsed last week by President Benigno Aquino 3rd as the ruling party’s top bet while Poe is yet to declare her plans for next year’s elections.
She and fellow independent senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero have been considering running together for higher office.
Poe on Tuesday said Escudero will not run against her if she decides to go for the vice presidency.
She said despite pronouncements that she is being wooed by the administration to team up with Roxas, she has not been offered the possibility.
Roxas also on Wednesday clarified that he had offered Poe to become his running mate months ago but he said she might have thought that it was not a formal offer because he had not been declared as the LP standard-bearer at the time.
He said he is also open to running with Batangas Gov. Vilma Santos-Recto or Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo, saying the two could contribute to the continuity of good governance.
“They all have the experience and capability and have shown that they really care for our compatriots,’’ Roxas explained.
“The best attribute that we see here is they are focused to the bones on their belief in daang matuwid.”
MALACAÑANG also on Wednesday fended off allegations that it is behind the smear job on Poe and instead blamed the camp of Vice President Jejomar Binay for the attacks on the lawmaker, who is now the subject of a disqualification case.
Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda said unseating Poe will not be beneficial to the Aquino administration.
“It does not do us any good, and it is important for us that Grace Poe be part of our team, as part of the generational change that the President wants for the country,” he added.
When asked who could be behind the move to unseat Poe, Lacierda replied that both the senator and the administration “know where this is coming from.”
“Who will benefit if Sen. Grace Poe is disqualified? Who has always said that Grace Poe has a problem with her citizenship or residency?” he asked.
Navotas City (Metro Manila) Rep. Tobias Tiangco, interim president of the United Nationalist Alliance, earlier this year issued a statement that Poe is not qualified to run for higher office in 2016 because she is six months short of the residency requirement under the 1987 Constitution.
Also on Wednesday, a newspaper columnist attempted to file a petition before the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) to remove Poe as senator since she is “neither an American citizen nor a Filipino citizen.”
Lito David claimed in his unfiled quo warranto petition that Poe is using an American passport, is not a natural-born Filipino and has taken her oath of allegiance to the United States.
He, however, was not able to file his petition before the SET as he failed to pay the P50,000 filing fee.
“Obviously, you all know that President Aquino and even Secretary Mar Roxas would prefer Grace Poe to be the vice presidential candidate,” Lacierda said.
“The President thinks of the generation. Why must two members of the same cause compete against each other?” he added.
Poe said questions being raised on her citizenship, residency and qualification as senator were just part of a plan to sow confusion regarding her person by those who desperately want her out of the 2016 elections.
According to her, she is ready to face any legal issues that would be thrown against her because she has nothing to hide and that she has documents that would prove that she is a natural-born citizen and that she is qualified to be a public servant.
Poe maintained that her life is an open book and information about how she was found inside a church, who were her adoptive parents, her life in the US and her decision to return to the Philippines are no secret.
The senator admitted that she was saddened that petitioner was not able to file the petition as it could provide her the chance to clear all issues on her personality before a proper forum.
“I have been a senator for more than two years, why are they raising these issues only now? As I have been saying, my life is an open book,” Poe said in Filipino.