Grace Poe: Aquino's 'secret candidate' no more

In the homestretch to the May 9 presidential election, Rappler #PHvote runs a daily blog by multimedia reporter Camille Elemia, who has been following Grace Poe. Get insights into the candidate's character, trusted people, and campaign decisions.

CHANGE. Presidential bet Grace Poe now pushes for change, far from the image of being President Benigno Aquino's supposed secret candidate. Photo by Rhaydz Barcia/Rappler

CHANGE. Presidential bet Grace Poe now pushes for change, far from the image of being President Benigno Aquino's supposed secret candidate.

Photo by Rhaydz Barcia/Rappler

"Walang monopolyo ng Daang Matuwid." (No one has the monopoly of the Straight Path.)

That's what Grace Poe had been saying since she declared her presidential bid in 2015. Since then, she had maintained a non-combative stance toward President Benigno Aquino III and his administration, except for a few of his allies. But now, in the last weeks of the campaign, Poe has been hitting the same road she once praised and sought to tread.

It was not surprising that she wanted that path initially. It was Aquino who opened the doors of government for her in 2010. It was also the President who asked her to run for senator in 2013 under the administration slate.

These and Poe's skyrocketing rating in preference polls might have led Aquino to consider Poe as his presidential candidate. It seemed to him, Poe could also continue what he started.

When the campaign began, Poe was careful in hitting Aquino and his administration. She mainly criticized his allies, former Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II and transportation chief Joseph Emilio Abaya.

She vowed to expand the Conditional Cash Transfer program that grew under Aquino. She would continue the fight against corruption. She would ensure continuity of approved Public-Private Partnerships. Most importantly, she would appoint Aquino as her adviser.

But fast forward to the last weeks of the campaign, when Poe became feistier in her statements against the administration. Poe, who was then used to answering questions vaguely, now usually say what she means. This may have all began when Poe slid down to 2nd place in surveys, behind Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

Unlike Poe, Duterte represents the opposite of the Aquino administration. Here was the man ready to overhaul the supposed faulty government, the man who does not calculate his words and acts, although not without repercussions. Here was the man who appeared to be one with the people. Here was the hero ready to solve problems quickly. And people liked it.

After Duterte’s surge, Poe added the concept of change in her messaging. While the tough-talking mayor is deemed to promote change through violence, Poe banks on "humane change."

From a candidate who’s allegedly the President’s secret bet, Poe now distances herself from the administration.

Her strongest statement against the administration came on Tuesday, May 3.

When asked in Cavite for a reaction to Duterte’s comment that a vote for him is a vote for radical change and, therefore, a vote against the Aquino administration, Poe said:

“Ang mga tao ay sawang sawa na. ang mga tao ay disillusioned dahil palaging 'dinidiiin Daang Matuwid, Daang Matuwid samantalang nakikita naman natin na ang serbisyo palpak sa maraming ahensya ng gobyerno. Matagal ko nang pinupuna rin 'yan.”

(The people are fed up. The people are disillusioned because they always emphasize Straigh Path, Straight Path when in fact we can see failed services by many government agencies, which I have long been pointing out.)

“Nakikita natin na di nagiging prayoridad ang pangangailangan ng ating mga kabababayan. Kaya para sa ating mga kababayan iniisip nila, 'Bakit nyo sinasabi na napakabuti ninyo kung kinakalimutan 'nyo naman kami?'” Poe said.

(We can see that the needs of the people are not prioritized. That’s why for them, they think, "Why do you say you are good when you keep on forgetting about us?")

It remains to be seen, however, if these tactics will help her regain the lead she once enjoyed and is now relished by her rival Duterte. – Rappler.com

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Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is a multimedia reporter focusing on media, technology, and disinformation.

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