A “tactical alliance” has been struck between independent presidential candidate Sen. Grace Poe and Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., a leading contender for Vice President, sources of The Manila Times said.
The agreement was sealed in early March this year, according to the “pro-Chiz” source in Poe’s camp, through Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos, eldest sister of Bongbong.
Chiz is the nickname of Sen. Francis Escudero, Poe’s running mate who is regarded as Marcos’ closest rival for the vice presidency in the May 2016 elections.
In early February, when Poe held a campaign rally in Batac, Ilocos Norte, Gov. Marcos showed up.
The governor even joked of a Marcos-Marcos win, alluding to unending rumors that Poe is the daughter of former President Ferdinand Marcos.
But Poe had denied the rumors, saying her family had been friends with the Marcoses for a long time.
Her father, action star Fernando Poe Jr., shot one of his famous movies, “Ang Panday,” in the province.
The Poe-Marcos merger comes amid a surge in Marcos’ ratings in recent surveys.
The latest Pulse Asia poll, whose results were released before the Holy Week, showed that Marcos and Escudero “statistically tied” as the top aspirants for vice president.
In past surveys, Escudero always enjoyed an edge over Bongbong, pushing his fellow senator to second place.
The source said Gov. Marcos initially met with Poe in Ilocos Norte to forge the alliance.
The two continued their negotiations in an exclusive village in Metro Manila, according to another source.
The political union seems to have been validated by the proliferation of “Grace-Bongbong” stickers in many parts of Metro Manila.
One of the sources said the Poe-Marcos merger has caused friction in the Poe-Escudero camp.
Apparently also fueling the silent war between Grace’s group and Escudero’s is that people from “Malacanang and DILG [Department of Interior and Local Government]” are in charge of making Poe’s media presence felt, to the exclusion of Escudero’s, the pro-Chiz source told The Manila Times.
One of these communication specialists, according to the source, is an “Assistant Secretary” close to President Benigno Aquino 3rd.
The source said Escudero had thought all along that the President fully supported the senator’s bid to become the country’s second-highest official.
The supposed backing stems from Aquino reportedly having said that he would never allow a Marcos to enter Malacañang again and, also, that Escudero is the only candidate who could thwart Bongbong’s bid for the vice presidency.
The President is seen throwing his support behind Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo, the running mate of the administration Liberal Party’s Manuel Roxas 2nd.
The skirmish between groups in the Poe-Escudero camp seemed to have emerged right after Escudero was reported to have met with the camp of Vice President Jejomar Binay in Davao City a few months ago when he was already the declared running mate of Poe.
Much earlier, during the 2010 elections, Escudero was widely suspected of having been behind the “Noy-Bi” caper, wherein Noy (then-Sen. Benigno Aquino 3rd) junked then-vice presidential candidate Roxas for Bi (Binay).
Aquino eventually won the race for President and Binay, for vice president.
Binay, the candidate for President of the opposition United Nationalist Alliance in this year’s synchronized local and national elections, has faltered in recent surveys, which early on he was topping for the most part.