BY ROGER M. BALANZA
As reports said that Senator Grace Poe and Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero are forming a tandem for the 2016 election, President Benigno Aquino met with the two allies in an apparent move to save the administration coalition led by his Liberal Party (LP).
Ahead of the May 2016 elections, several members of the coalition are saying they will be fielding presidential candidates.
Poe and Escudero run as independent guest candidates under the LP in the 2013 election, even as they were already in the senatorial line-up of the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).
The Aquino coalition of various parties battled it out with the UNA in the 2013 mid-term election.
Aquino ally Senator Antonio Trillanes first hinted that the coalition may be breaking up when he said earlier that Poe is running for President with Escudero her running mate under a separate ticket in next year’s polls. Trillanes quoted “reliable sources” he did not name on the senators’ political plan under a coalition away from the LP or UNA.
Another coalition member, the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino – Laban (PDP-Laban) has also said it may field Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte for President.
The Aquino party is fielding Interior Secretary Mar Roxas who is making LP leaders nervous about his chances due to his poor showing in surveys.
In the latest survey for presidential preference of the Social Weather Stations (SWS), Poe emerged second to front runner Vice President Jejomar Binay, the candidate of UNA.
Behind them in a statistical tie is Roxas and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte of PDP-Laban.
Of the four, only Binay has bared his presidential plan which is facing stormy weather over allegations of corruption and plunder during his stint as mayor of Makati City and his tenure as vice president.
Poe’s showing in the surveys is positioning her for the race but she has put off declaring her plan. Poe is also facing a serious residency issue that may not qualify her to run for President.
PDP-Laban chairman Senator Koko Pimentel has said his party is fielding Duterte in the race under a new coalition. PDP-Laban was part of the administration coalition in the 2016 election.
The popular Duterte, however, has been somersaulting on running or not for President, but has kept alive speculations he would join the race to Malacanang by saying he would make known his final plan during filing of Certificate of Candidacy (COC) in October.
Speculations are that the LP may opt for Duterte in case Roxas is ditched and finds another standard bearer. Duterte supported Aquino’s presidential bid in the 2010 election and the LP senatorial slate in the 2013 mid-term derby.
During the July 9 meeting in Malacanang, Aquino reportedly asked Poe and Escudero to meet with Roxas in a move to preserve the 2013 coalition for the 2016 derby.
The meeting was confirmed by the senators, but Poe said in a radio report on GMA’s DXGN radio in Davao City that the meeting did not discuss who would be running for President or Vice President.
Poe said there is another meeting set with Aquino “as part of consultation process.” Aquino also discussed continuation of the President’s reforms, said Poe.
In the meeting, Aquino apparently sent the message that the senators forego with their plan to run for the top posts in the coming elections and throw their support instead to Roxas.
Aquino has said in the past that he favored Roxas to be his successor. LP leaders however said a convention would pick the party’s presidential bet.
Escudero said Aquino expressed his wish to keep the coalition intact with a common candidate.
Escudero said there were no political offers, on who would be the candidates for President and Vice President, during the meeting.