PRESIDENT Benigno Aquino 3rd on Thursday said he harbors no ill feelings over Sen. Grace Poe’s declaration of her intention to run for President next year, noting that the lawmaker even sent him a text message promising that she will not bash his administration to score brownie points.
“We’re thankful that she gave us credit, particularly in fighting corruption. If that is also their objective, I don’t see any reason to get angry with them. Eventually, it’s the people who will decide who deserves to continue treading the straight path [daang matuwid],” the President said in Filipino.
He was holding a news conference to address the Mamasapano issue just as the event announcing the team-up between Poe and Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero wound up (See related stories).
Poe, who topped the 2013 senatorial race under the administration coalition’s ticket, was earlier being eyed as running mate of former Interior secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd.
No less than the President reportedly tried to convince Poe to set aside her presidential ambitions and give way to Roxas as what the latter did in 2009.
Poe was trailing Vice President Jejomar Binay in pre-election presidential preference surveys early this year.
She however, wrested the lead by the second quarter for her deft handling of the Senate investigation of the Mamasapano incident, coupled with the corruption allegations that hounded Binay, who will run for President under the opposition United Nationalist Alliance.
During the news conference, Aquino disclosed that Poe sent him a lengthy text message at 10 p.m. Tuesday, or the night before she announced her candidacy about her scheduled declaration.
“I was actually elated with her message, in a sense, she bid me farewell and clarified her intentions,” the President said.
He added that Poe promised that he would hear no attack coming from her during the campaign.
“Dadating tayo sa kampanya na kung saan makakarating sa kampo mo na inaatake kita at never kong gagawin ‘yan [During the campaign, your camp might hear that I was hitting you and I will never do that],” the President said, quoting Poe.
He added that he replied and thanked the senator and gave her his assurance that if ever he would be criticized, “it should be in the right context based on facts.”
Though Aquino assured that he has no “hard feelings” with the declaration of Poe and Escudero, he asked how the two could “surpass” what his administration has been doing right now.
“[If they can capture the imagination of our voters, maybe, they will side with the two of them],” he pointed out.
He said if Roxas, the Liberal Party’s standard-bearer, could prove that he can continue the principle of good governance, then voters might side with him.
“Ang importante sa atin, huwag tayong bumalik kung saan tayo nanggaling. Huwag naman sanang lumabas na itong limang taon na ito ay kumbaga nagkaroon lang tayo ng intermission, tapos babalik sa katotohanan na pangit. Dito na tayo, pagandahin na natin ‘yung magandang nangyayari na sa atin [The important thing for us is not to go back to where we came from. It should not appear that the past five years was just an intermission then we’ll go back to the ugly way. Let’s stick to this, let’s make sure that what we improve on the good things happening to us now],” Aquino added.
The President, however, said during the campaign period, there would be “brand differentiation,” meaning there will be conflict in “marketing” candidates.
He asked both Poe and Escudero not to resort to mudslinging but instead showcase their platforms.
“Just like what I was asking from the true opposition, they should talk based on the truth and that they should be truthful on their promises. Do not promise the moon and stars even if they know they can’t reach them,” the President said.