Parties will name bets after SONA

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THE coast will be clearer after President Benigno Aquino 3rd delivers his administration’s valedictory in his last State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 27.

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Lawmakers who belong to political parties affiliated with the administration coalition on
Tuesday said their parties will firm up their plans by next week.

The key question to resolve is who among the President’s possible bets will get their support.

Sen. Vicente Sotto 3rd of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) said they will tackle the next elections in their meeting next week.

“[Some of us are waiting if Senator Grace [Poe] will be running for President]. Many of us will be supporting her. I for one… There are others who are supportive of Vice President [Jejomar] Binay,” Sotto added

On the other hand, he said another group in the NPC will support the candidacy of Binay, who will be the standard-bearer of the United Nationalist Alliance

Binay’s avid supporters, according to Sotto, include President Aquino’s cousin, Mark Cojuangco, son of NPC chairman emeritus Eduardo “ Danding” Cojuangco Jr.

“There are others also headed by Mark Cojuangco who are supportive of Vice President Binay. So [that is one issue that we will]thresh out. So after the SONA, we will meet and we will finalize [our plans for the 2016 elections],” he said.

Poe and Binay are ranked 1st and 2nd in pre-election presidential surveys.
Poe, a first-time senator, is an independent but is affiliated with the Aquino administration’s coalition.

Sen. Cynthia Villar said the Nacionalista Party (NP) is still weighing its options whether to field its own candidates or enter into an alliance with other political parties.

Three NP members–Senators Alan Peter Cayetano, Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Antonio Trillanes 4th–are reportedly eyeing higher positions in 2016.

Trillanes earlier expressed his interest to run for Vice President.

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., who has been reported to be supportive of Poe after a “falling out” with Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas 2nd –the presumptive standard-bearer of the Liberal Party–refused to categorically say if he would still support Roxas.

“You know at this stage of the game, we are not [sure]… still a free thing [isn’t it]? I’d like to wait for [further developments],” Belmonte said.

When asked how he sees Poe as a potential candidate for President, the House Speaker replied, “Certainly, I think she is a good candidate.”

“And certainly I believe as well that Secretary Mar Roxas is super well-prepared to take over the presidency. But at this stage of the game, I don’t like to say anything,” Belmonte said.

Sotto expressed optimism about a possible team-up of Poe and Sen. Francis Escudero.

He said Poe herself would not slide down to Roxas as some Liberal Party stalwarts wanted her to do because she is “committed” to supporting Escudero’s bid for the vice presidency.

According to him, the camps of Poe and Escudero are “seriously considering” running together.

“That I know for a fact [that they are]seriously considering it,” Sotto said.

Meanwhile, Belmonte admitted that even within the LP, many are still weighing their options as to who they should be backing.

“At this stage of the game where nobody has been chosen and where… In effect, the field is still open. I think it is not unreasonable for various LP members to entertain all sorts of ideas [but]the important thing is that once a decision on the right processes has taken place, that they are behind it and I have no doubt that they will be,” he said.

Nevertheless, Belmonte added, he expects the President “to reach out to our coalition partners and solicit their support.”

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