Poe finally declares bid for the presidency
“I am Grace Poe. A Filipino. A daughter, wife and mother. And with God’s grace, I offer myself for the country’s highest calling as your President.”
Amid roaring applause, Sen. Grace Poe made the statement in Filipino as she finally threw her hat into the 2016 presidential derby.
She made the announcement at the University of the Philippines Bahay ng Alumni–the same venue where her late father Fernando Poe Jr. declared his presidential run in late 2003.
Poe’s declaration will set the stage for a three-way race against Vice President Jejomar Binay and former Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd, who is President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s anointed successor.
Poe’s immediate family–husband Neil Llamanzares and three children and her adoptive mother, veteran actress Susan Roces–was present.
Her family arrived around 4 p.m. or two hours before her 6 p.m. speech.
Politicians including House Minority Leader Ronaldo Zamora and former congressmen Roilo Golez and Bem Noel were spotted.
Noel, a close Aquino ally, had resigned his post as director of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office.
Films featuring the late actor Fernando Poe Jr. or FPJ were shown on wide screens set on a stage hours before the event.
Poe–whose full name is Mary Grace Poe Llamanzares–who leads pre-election presidential preference surveys is banking on her parents’ celebrity status to catapult her past Binay and Roxas.
Recent public opinion surveys had Poe leading her two rivals, with 30 percent saying they would vote for her.
Binay, whose early lead was eroded amid corruption allegations, got 22 percent, while Roxas had just 10 percent.
President Aquino, who had publicly courted Poe to run as Roxas’ Vice President had said he was not worried about her presidential ambitions.
“We are moving away from personality-based politics. So whatever her announcement is, we will still be advocating governance based on a specific platform,” Aquino told reporters on Monday.
“When my father ran for the presidency, he was ridiculed; his inexperience was scoffed at and his citizenship questioned. Yet he bravely faced the challenge and the opportunity to help change the lives of his fellow Filipinos for the better,” Poe said as she recalled her father who narrowly lost to then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2004 amid allegations of massive fraud that cheated him of victory.
FPJ died of a brain stroke seven months after the elections.
“His integrity, courage and goodness have become both my guide and inspiration. My mother also gave me sound advice. She said, ‘My child, amid the loud noise of politics, never ever lose yourself,’” the senator said.
Poe’s mother, Susan, was beaming as she watched her adopted daughter deliver her acceptance speech.
“My life is an open book. Who would’ve thought that a foundling would ever become senator? I thank you for giving me that opportunity,” she said.
Poe, 46, is a relative political novice, having been a senator for just two years, and faces legal challenges over her citizenship that could rule her out of elections in May next year.
But Poe is already the favorite, capitalizing on a star-struck electorate who have a colorful history of electing celebrities to all manner of political positions–from barangay (village) level to the presidency.
The dainty-looking senator has in public appearances adopted the blue-collar style that nearly got her father elected President in 2004, wearing a crisp white shirt over jeans as she toured the country pressing flesh leading up to Wednesday’s event.
Before declaring her presidential bid, the senator enumerated what she wanted to do as the nation’s leader.
She said she wanted to continue the government’s fight against corruption and like Aquino in 2010, promised to facilitate the immediate passage of the proposed Freedom of Information bill.
“No one man or group holds a monopoly on tuwid na daan. President Aquino has done much to curb corruption and I am thankful that it has restored the people’s faith in an honest leader,” Poe added.
“It is only right to continue the fight against corruption. We will hold the corrupt accountable, whether they be friend or foe. This should be the crusade of every Filipino, not just one person or party.”
Poe promised to reduce taxes.
“People know what their needs are and they have a right to choose how to spend their hard-earned money. But if government lowers taxes, we should reciprocate by paying the right taxes. And this I guarantee: Every peso you pay will be returned to you in fast and quality service.”
“Filipinos need no longer kill fellow Filipinos. With peace, real progress can touch all corners of the country,” she said.
“To our Moro brothers, your culture and heroism were the inspiration for many of my father’s films. After a long and hard history, it is time that you are given equal opportunities and genuine assistance.”
The senator also promised to continue defending the country’s claim to parts of the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).
“The West Philippine Sea is ours. We will protect our right through peaceful means, and according to international law. We will beef up our Coast Guard and Armed Forces so that we need not be intimidated by other countries,” she said.
Poe also promised to address the worsening traffic congestion in Metro Manila.
She said there is a need to build more roads and have more trains not only in Metro Manila but all over the country.
“We should remove all colorum and illegally parked vehicles. We should implement staggered office hours. No roadwork should be left unfinished. We should immediately fire contractors who don’t stick to the approved timetable,” Poe added.
Roces told reporters she is not bothered by the risks her daughter would be exposed to now that she has declared her intention to become the nation’s next leader.
“I would not have accomplished anything if I have allowed fear to control me,” she said
Roces assured the public that her daughter like the other aspirants has thoroughly thought over her decision and prepared for the things she needs to do in the coming months.
With JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA AND AFP