Binay camp on Grace Poe: 'It's her right to run'

MANILA, Philippines – In an apparent attempt to mend fences with Senator Grace Poe after her qualifications to run for higher office were questioned by the Binay camp, no less than the Vice President's daughter, Makati Representative Abigail Binay, said they will leave it to the courts to decide the issue.

"Naninindigan kami na ang mga usaping ito ay dapat na maresolba sa isang pamamaraan lamang, at iyan ay sa pamamagitan ng korte," Binay said, referring to citizenship and residency issues raised by their allies. (We maintain that these issues can only be resolved by the court.) 

Saying she wants to end the raging word war between the camp of her father Vice President Jejomar Binay and Poe, Representative Binay told a news briefing on Thursday, June 4, "Kung mamarapatin ni Senator Poe na tumakbo bilang presidente sa 2016, malugod itong tinatanggap at ginagalang ng aking ama. Karapatan niya na tumakbo sa kahit anumang position. Hindi dapat ito pag-ugatan ng kahit na anong away at alitan.

(If Senator Grace Poe decides to run for president in 2016, my father would welcome and respect it. It's her right to run for any position. It should not be the source of any fight or bickering.)

Reading from a statement, Binay said that the legal issues raised by Navotas Representative Toby Tiangco, who is United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) president, on the qualifications of Poe to seek higher office should be resolved in court and not through the media. (READ: Binay camp: Poe not qualified to run for president or VP)

"Hindi ito dapat maging isang personal na balitaktakan sa pagitan ng mambabatas o abogabo na sari-sari ang opinion at kuro-kuro. Wala itong mararating kung hindi paigtingin at painitin ang diumano'y namumuong alitan sa pagitan ng aking ama at ni Senator Poe," she said.

(This should not be a personal exchange between a lawmaker or a lawyer with their own opinions and theories. This would not achieve anything but to escalate and heat up the alleged rift forming between my father and Senator Poe.)

She said that her father has never discussed any intention to file a case against Poe to address such legal questions.

Conceding the possibility of a wider political rift emerging between the two, even as the Vice President had supported the candidacy of Poe's father in the 2004 presidential elections, the congresswoman said, "Kung sa huli ay magkahiwalay sa landas na pulitika ang tatay ko at si Senator Grace Poe ay wala kaming magagawa. Ginagalang nang buong puso ang kanyang pagpasya," she said. 

(If, in the end, my father and Senator Grace Poe part ways politically, we cannot do anything about it. We will respect her decision whole-heartedly.)

'VP was an orphan, FPJ's true friend'

Binay also said that her father would never use the fact that Poe was a foundling, later adopted by actors Fernando Poe Jr and Susan Roces, to belittle the leadership skills of the senator.

"Ang tatay ko po ay maagang naulila. Lumaki siya sa kalinga ng kanyang mga kamag-anak. Hindi niya gagawin na maliitin ang mga pangyayari sa buhay ni Senator Grace Poe dahil siya ay may alam kung gaano kahirap at gaano kasakit para sa isang anak [na mawalan ng magulang]," she said.

(My father was orphaned at an early age. He grew up in the care of his relatives. He will never belittle such events in Senator Poe's life because he knows how painful it is for a child [not to have parents].)

The lawmaker added that Poe herself was witness to the "genuine" and "unquestionable" friendship between the Vice President and Fernando Poe Jr.

Binay said she was prompted to speak out on behalf of her father to end the word war between the two camps. She added that it would be the "last time" anyone from the Binay camp would say anything about the matter.

"Gusto kong tuldukan kasi siyempre nagkakainitan na. Dati kaming isang grupo, isang pamilya kaya ayaw naming palalaain ang sitwasyon. At the end of the day, hindi natin maikakaila na may pinagsamahan and pamilya namin kay Senator Grace Poe, sa pamilya niya – personal at politikal. Mas malalim ang personal…kaya nandito ako para palamigin ang ulo ng lahat ng tao," she said.

(I want to put an end to this, because it's heating up. We used to be one group, one family, so we don't want the situation to worsen. At the end of the day, we cannot deny the relationship of my family with Senator Grace Poe's family. The personal aspect is deeper than the political, so I'm here to help cool the hot heads.)

'Emotional'

When asked, Binay said that the Vice President and Poe have yet to talk to patch things up over the residency and citizenship issue, as everyone, including the senator, has become "emotional."

She said, however, that the two families have common friends that can help "bridge" whatever gap there is, and that she can step in, if allowed, when things have cooled down.

The lawmaker said, "If I would be given a chance, I would like to talk to her….I'm confident that we would be able to patch things up because of our deep relationship." 

Tiangco on Tuesday, June 2, presented a copy of Poe's certificate of candidacy for the previous mid-term elections. It showed that as of May 13, 2013, she had resided in the country for 6 years and 6 months – "proof" that she would have been a Philippine resident for less than the required minimum 10 years by May 2016. 

Poe countered, however, that she had been a Philippine resident since 2005.

Binay and Poe are ranked first and second, respectively, in nationwide polls on voters' preference on possible presidential contenders in 2016. – Mia Gonzalez/Rappler.com