Supporters of Grace Poe said there is a “conspiracy” to stop the senator from running for the presidency in 2016, alleging that such a plot could be traced to the camp of Liberal Party (LP) standard bearer Manuel Roxas 2nd.
“Actually what I can say is there is a conspiracy. The movement, the actions, the filing of a case at the SET [Senate Electoral Tribunal] by [Rizalito] David and the four disqualification cases filed with the Comelec [Commission on Elections] – those efforts came from the camp of Roxas, who is also a candidate for President,” Rez Cortez of the Adopt Grace Poe Movement (AGPM), one of the 12 organizations under the Gawa at Prinsipyo Coalition (GPC), said in Filipino at a news conference on Wednesday.
Calocan City (Metro Manila) Rep. Erice, an LP spokesman, however, denied Cortez’s allegations.
Cortez, a veteran character actor on stage and in movies, was once a spokesman for the late Fernando Poe Jr., the senator’s adoptive father.
He claimed that David was a former staff of Roxas, while lawyer Estrella Elamparo belongs to a law office connected to the “The Firm.”
“The Firm” refers to the Villaraza, Cruz, Marcelo & Angangco, or CVC Law Office.
Elamparo had succeeded in petitioning the Comelec to disqualify Poe over citizenship and residency issues.
Former Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz, a partner in the law firm, is reportedly a close associate of Roxas.
Roxas and Cruz were members of the Cabinet of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
The LP standard-bearer was retained as Trade secretary from the previous Estrada administration while Cruz served as Defense chief.
Cortez, moreover, claimed that former law school dean Amado Valdez, who also filed a disqualification case against Poe, has ties with “The Firm.”
“We heard that he [Valdez] was [hesitant]to file [another disqualification]case [against Poe]but he was forced to because he is a lawyer of a law office, which you can [easily trace],” the actor said.
When asked if Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista is also part of the conspiracy, Cortez replied that it would be best if journalists themselves would research the connection.
Earlier, a group called Bantay Balota ng Bayan circulated an open letter to the media alleging that a certain Arnel Bacarra, reportedly a protégé of Bautista, was the one who gave advance information to Rep. Edgar Erice about the Comelec Second Division’s decision to disqualify Poe.
Bacarra, the group said, is the general manager of the Bataan Shipyard and Engineering Co. (Baseco) but is also connected with the poll body, holding the position of Lawyer VI.
Balota ng Bayan also claimed that during a recent Baseco board meeting, Bacarra was boasting that Bautista had told him that Poe would be definitely disqualified by the commission en banc and that Bacarra was promised a Supreme Court position under a Roxas administration.
The Manila Times tried to get comments from Bautista and Comelec spokesman James Jimenez but received no response.
Referring to the four individual disqualification cases filed against Poe with the Comelec, Cortez asked, “Why were they not consolidated? It was intentional because they wanted it prolonged to next year and reach the Supreme Court.”
“There is a certain pattern. When Vice President [Jejomar] Binay was number one in the survey, they moved to eliminate him. When Sen. Poe became number one, she became the target. Now [Mayor Rodrigo] Duterte is number one in the survey and these groups are also planning to eliminate him so that there would be no more opposition,” Cortez said.
He challenged Roxas to play fair, warning that even if the Malacanang presidential candidate has all the resources it will all go for naught.
LP denies allegations
Calocan City (Metro Manila) Rep. Erice, also LP spokesman, dismissed Cortez’s allegations.
“It’s [a]figment of their imagination, trying to picture that the DQ [disqualification]case is a product of political machination but, in truth and [in]fact, Sen Poe’s citizenship and residency issue[s][have]solid basis,” the lawmaker said.