Poe, Escudero to launch campaign in Plaza Miranda on Feb 9

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – In the face of possible disqualification, Senator Grace Poe and her running mate, Senator Francis Escudero, will launch their national campaign in Plaza Miranda in Manila on February 9, the first day of the official campaign period for the May 2016 elections.

Plaza Miranda was also where the Team PNoy senatorial slate, including Poe and Escudero, held its opening salvo in 2013.

In 2004, at the height of the disqualification issue against Poe's late father, then presidential candidate Fernando Poe Jr, crowds gathered at the venue to support their idol.

Asked why they chose to launch in the nation’s capital, Durano said: “Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon have the biggest number of voters and it will be more convenient for national media to cover.”

Campaign manager Ace Durano said all senatorial bets except reelectionist Senator Ralph Recto would be there. Recto, Durano said, would just send a representative. (READ: Poe-Escudero tandem announces complete Senate slate)

Recto is part of the administration slate and also a guest candidate of Poe-Escudero. Recto had skipped the announcement of the latter's slate in October to avoid issues with his political party, the ruling Liberal Party. (READ: LP-led coalition sets rules for shared senatorial candidates)

Those that vowed to be there on Tuesday are Senator Vicente Sotto III, migrant workers advocate Susan "Toots" Ople, Valenzuela Representative Sherwin Gatchlian, former Senators Richard Gordon and Juan Miguel Zubiri, and Manila Vice Mayor Isko Moreno.

The 6 exclusive candidates of the tandem - Pasig Representative Roman Romulo, ACT-CIS party list Representative Samuel Pagdilao, Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares, Valenzuela Representative Sherwin Gatchalian, actor Edu Manzano, and lawyer Lorna Kapunan - will also be there.

Amid disqualification issues against their presidential bet and the risk of her name not placed on the ballot, Durano said they have already laid out plans for the 90-day campaign period, subject to approval of Poe and Escudero.

After the campaign launch, they are set to go to the provinces of Cebu, Sultan Kudarat, North Cotabato and Pangasinan. (READ: Campaign Trail: Where the candidates are, Feb 8-14

Asked if they will have individual or group sorties, Durano maintained they would not compel their senatorial bets to join them.

“Yes, the senatorial candidates are invited to the various activities. Our attitude, however, is that these activities are in addition to their respective activities based on their respective strategies.” – Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com