Grace Poe: I have always been truthful

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – Truthfulness and lack of experience in governance are actually assets in her bid for the presidency, Senator Grace Poe told a convention held Saturday, January 30, in this province.

Together with her running mate Senator Chiz Escudero and senatorial bets Isko Moreno, Neri Colmenares, and Sherwin Gatchalian, Poe was in the city to attend the 20th National Convention of Kabayan Riders Association for New Cultural Harmony and Order Inc. (Karancho) at the Nazareth Gymnasium. 

Police estimated that thousands attended the convention.

When asked about her political vulnerabilities and weaknesses, Poe said that throughout her life, she has always been truthful.

“But I think, if you are a candidate, you always want to put your best foot forward, and you don’t divulge your weaknesses especially to your opponents,” Poe said.

Poe said that her weaknesses do not involve anything illegal. “My weaknesses are not anything illegal, or anything that would probably be a toss-up as to whether a person or an individual would vote for me or not,” Poe said.

She faces disqualification over citizenship and residency issues. The Supreme Court has held two oral arguments on her case, the latest one on January 26. The first one was held a week before on January 19.

Poe, a relative newcomer in the political scene, has been gaining ground as a viable presidential candidate. A December survey by polling firm Social Weather Stations showed her tied with Vice President Jejomar Binay.

Binay and Poe were each chosen by 26% of 1,200 respondents polled from December 12-14, according to a report published by BusinessWorld.

Viable candidate

The daughter of the "king of Philippine movies" Fernando Poe Jr, Poe’s political life started when she was appointed chair of the Movie Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) in 2010, then elected senator in 2013 to serve a 6-year term.

For Poe, her lack of political excess baggage is where her strength lies. “Not having the political excess baggage that most candidates running for the same position have – that’s what I think I see that others might perceive as a weakness, but I actually perceive it as an advantage,” Poe said.

Poe defended her lack of experience in government, saying that experience should not be limited to government service.

“To the public, I think the others are thinking, do I actually have the capacity and the experience to do the job? My answer is always this: experience is not only merely limited to your life in government, you can also count your experiences you gain in the private sector, as well as that of being an individual, a mother,” Poe said.

Mindanao priorities

Poe said that her Mindanao agenda is set on raising the national budget allocation for the region as it has been left behind by government.

Mindanao contributes about 14%* of the country's gross domestic product (GDP), with Northern Mindanao (Region 10) and Davao Region (Region 11) contributing half of the regional GDP. The rest of the regions (Regions 9, 12, Caraga, and ARMM) lag behind and are among the most impoverished provinces in the country.

Poe said that what she can bring to the table in governance are new perspectives to solve the country’s age-old problems in Mindanao.

Poe added that she would raise the current budget for Mindanao from the current under-20% to at least 30%.

“We need to raise it, why? Because 20% of the country’s population is in Mindanao but there is little support from the government,” Poe said.

“Hopefully, in this instance, the Mindanao dream will be heeded and I am determined to do that, because if Mindanao is affected, it affects the whole country,” Poe added.

“You know you don’t need someone who has stayed long in the government to do what is right. What’s important is that you have the capacity, coupled with protective concern, to help.” Poe said. – Rappler.com

*Editor's Note: In a previous version of this story, Mindanao's share to the Philippine Gross Domestic Product was pegged at 40%. This has been corrected to 14%.