No one would spill the beans–the full story rather, on the PNoy-Poe meeting but some details are emerging, courtesy of Senator Grace Poe herself. Here they are:
• They met, talked about politics, and President Aquino did not categorically ask Ms. Poe to be the Liberal Party standard bearer in May 2016.
• Rather, Mr. Aquino beat around the bush and told her, obliquely perhaps, that the LP might look for alternatives given the poor polling of the party’s fair-haired boy, Mar Roxas.
• Ms. Poe was thrilled by the meeting. Even without a direct acknowledgement on the part of the President that Mar Roxas might be set aside in favor of a competitive candidate, there was that hint that the LP’s coronation of Mr. Roxas did not generate enthusiasm from Mr. Aquino.
Parsing through the polite and guarded conversation between Mr. Aquino and Ms. Poe, political junkies can nonetheless feel what was couched by the words said in that civil conversation. That was the sense of desperation that the LP is in right now, just a year before the next presidential election. The words of assurances that Mr. Roxas is the unanimous party choice to run for president have all but foundered with the PNoy-Poe meeting. Had there been no real doubts about Mr. Roxas’ ability to win, that meeting would have not taken place.
The PNoy-Poe meeting admitted in so many words that so many things remain in play in so far as the LP presidential draft is concerned. And that the statements about the “Chosen One,” which came from real heavyweight Frank Drilon to imaginary heavyweight Edgar Erice, should all be taken with a grain of salt.
In Philippine politics this is the norm. The final decision on who gets to run for president rests on the incumbent president of the republic and the PNoy-Poe meeting all but suggested the internal tensions that are right now tearing apart the LP. It spoke of a dominant political party, the head of the ruling coalition, looking at a very bleak post-2016 scenario.
Or, we can put it this way. A party looking for a savior in the person of Senator Poe.
Senator Poe has been in the headlines these days, the result of the LP’s search for an alternative to Mr. Roxas. But to the Manila Times, it is old news. The first commentary that she was the most viable challenger to Vice President Binay in the presidential race came from the Manila Times and that was written in this space way, way back. The headline of that column was something like this: “Poe and Opo are Mr. Binay’s nightmare words.” The column was not one of political prescience but rather a simple realization that the LP, despite Mr. Aquino’s soaring approval ratings then, lacked a viable and winnable presidential candidate. And that all presidential wannabes had to reckon with the daughter of the late Fernando Poe Jr.
What was actually the new thing about the PNoy-Poe meeting was Senator Poe’s reaction to the meeting. Before, she had this Elizabeth Warren-like resolve not to run for president.
Senator Poe did not, like Warren, threaten to put an exclamation point at every sentence that declared her lack of interest in the presidency. Like Warren, however, her sworn lack of presidential ambition was done on a sustained basis. She said she wanted to stay in the Senate and learn.
Now, it is all too clear that while she sounds coy about her political future, Ms. Poe is open to changing her mind, and, if and invitation comes, she might accept a draft from the LP.
No one, even the most level-headed, cannot but catch the deadly virus called presidentialitis.
If Ms, Poe is hard-hit by that virus that also goes by the name “Pasig-Yearning,” and does so with the official anointment of the LP, she will be a formidable candidate. Right now, a section of the mainstream media is boosting her up. This is the same section of the media that has thrown every corruption story at the Binays, whose patriarch is the putative frontrunner in the 2016 election.
One of the so-called “ Wise Men” of the country had said positive statements about her and that “Wise Man” has an enormous clout within the business community. A non-stop reruns of her father’s action films, which a giant network is currently doing, would also be of immense help.
With all these things going for her, the question is this: Are these enough to topple Mr. Binay?
The recent surveys have brought Mr. Binay’s figures down to earth but he remains the candidate to beat. A lesser candidate would have not survived the incessant accusations of massive corruption but Mr. Binay has.
In 2016, should Ms. Poe gets the LP draft, we are guaranteed of a competitive fight. Forget the other wannabes. Think of them as the Carly Fionas and Ben Carsons of the Republican Party primaries.