MANILA, Philippines – Senator Grace Poe on Saturday, July 18, took a fresh swipe at those questioning her capability to lead the country given her supposed "inexperience". She said she had been honing important leadership qualities from her parents since childhood.
In what sounded like a campaign speech, Poe apprised the audience at the Tnalak festival in Koronadal, South Cotabato, of what she has done so far in the Senate. She also told them about what she learned from her celebrity parents, the late actor Fernando Poe Jr and actress Susan Roces, which have helped her as senator.
She said her father taught her that "one has to be brave" and to "fight" without being arrogant. He likewise taught her about honesty and charity.
"Ito pong mga bagay na ito ay hindi natututunan sa isang linggo, sa isang araw, o sa isang taon. Ito po ay natututunan magmula noong ikaw ay bata pa," she said. (I didn't learn these things in just a week or a day or a year. I learned these since I was a child) (READ: We can't afford an inexperienced president – Binay)
Poe added: "Sabi nila, kinakailangan na ang isang lider ay may tamang karanasan at tamang kakayanan. Naniniwala po ako doon. Pero importante rin sa lahat ay ang isang lider na may puso at katapatan sa ating kababayan. Sapagka't bale-wala po na ikaw ay sobrang matalino kung ang iyong intensyon ay hindi naman para mapabuti ang mga kababayan."
(They say a leader has to have enough experience and competence. I believe that. But it's also important for a leader to have a heart and sincerity when it comes to the people. All your brilliance would be tantamount to nothing if your intention is not to improve the welfare of the people.)
Poe mentioned her father, "FPJ," several times in her speech at the festival, held on the 49th Foundation Anniversary of South Cotabato, where she was with Senator Francis Escudero. Escudero is her rumored running mate in 2016, should she decide to seek the presidency.
Poe thanked the province for not forgetting FPJ, whose films, she said, are still viewed by the locals to this day.
She said she knew that the South Cotabato voters supported her because of her parents, particularly her father, who has a strong fan base in Mindanao.
Poe also enumerated some of the measures she had filed over the last two years, before touching on the Senate probes that she had led which, she said, required "courage."
Poe, chair of the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs, said she led the Senate probe into the Mamasapano operation that killed over 60 people, including 44 elite cops; and the state of the Metro Rail Transit 3 (MRT3).
Taking off from this, the senator said, "Kaya nga po, napakahalaga sa isang lider na magkaroon ng tapang, dahil minsan ang hamon ay dumarating at kinakailangan talaga ay lakasan mo ang loob mo."
(This is why it is very important for a leader to have courage. Because sometimes, challenges will come and you really need to be tough.)
Running as independents?
Speaking to reporters after the event, Poe and Escudero said they could run as independent candidates in 2016, but did not specify positions.
The two senators ran as independent candidates in 2013 but under the administration ticket. Senator Sergio Osmeña III had earlier urged Poe to run for vice president under the ruling Liberal Party, as it would be difficult to pursue the presidency as an independent candidate.
Asked what the tipping point would be for the two to run together in 2016, Poe said the final reckoning will ultimately be in October, the deadline for the filing of certificates of candidacy.
“Importante magdasal at pag-isipan (It is important to pray and think it over)," said Poe, who has been in talks with President Benigno Aquino III on the 2016 elections. (READ: The Scrum: The weight of a presidential endorsement)
Poe and Escudero were joined by Las Piñas Representative Mark Villar, son of former senator Manny Villar, who heads the Nacionalista Party. – with reports from Edwin Espejo/Rappler.com