Who will be Mar Roxas' VP? List: Poe, Robredo, Cayetano

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Endorsement, check. Declaration, check.

With those out of the way, administration standard-bearer and Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Manuel Roxas II moves on to another step in his bid for the presidency: a vice presidential candidate.

So far, the shortlist has been cut down to 3, according to various sources and interviews with stalwarts of the Liberal Party and Roxas himself: (click on the name of the contender for more information)

Asked what he was looking for in a vice president, Roxas said the most important requirement was for the person to be "to the bones na tumatangkilik, naniniwala sa ‘Daang Matuwid (someone who truly follows and believes in the Daang Matuwid).'"

Those who merely use "Daang Matuwid" to further their political goals, for convenience, or as rhetoric, are definitely out of contention, said Roxas.

He added, "It's not just a slogan, it’s a way of life, it’s a way of governance, it’s a way of relating with our countrymen who are at the center of everything,"  

GRACE POE

The wooing of Poe, who is barely halfway through her first term as senator, is the most public among those being considered. President Benigno Aquino III himself met with Poe at least 4 times in the past few months, with at least two of those meetings with Roxas in attendance.

Although it was never explicitly said to her, Poe admitted in an interview that it seemed as though Aquino was eyeing her to be Roxas’ running mate.

Roxas himself said in a chance interview on August 1 that Poe was still part of his shortlist for vice president.

Poe ran as an independent during the 2013 midterm elections but campaigned alongside the ruling Liberal Party, even donning the party’s trademark yellow in some of its ads. She topped the senatorial race that year. 

But the senator says she wants to remain independent in 2016, should she seek a higher national post.

One of the roadblocks to persuading Poe to forgo the presidency for 2016 and slide down to vice president, if LP allies and sources are to be believed, is Senator Francis Escudero, who is eyeing a higher post come 2016.

The two allies, however, have stated that they are still going to be independent of each other when it comes to their plans for 2016. Thus LP allies are still not giving up on wooing Poe to be Roxas’s running mate, pointing out that it would be a dream tandem.

The idea, LP sources said, is for 12 years of “Daang Matuwid,” the current administration’s tagline for its transparency, good governance, and anti-corruption drive. Aquino, in his last State of the Nation Address, said it was possible for the country to reach First World status should his reforms continue.

Aquino remains hopeful that Poe and Escudero would join the "unified" ticket in 2016.

"We are still hoping. We still want to have that very unified group that will preserve the coalition as much as possible that can ensure the victory of the agenda," Aquino told reporters on Monday, August 3.

The President warned of the dangers of having a divided coalition and said it might lead to the opposition's victory.

"Pero kapag naghati tayo nang naghati nang naghati, baka naman maging manipis na manipis 'yung lamang at doon manganib lahat 'yung pinaghirapan natin," Aquino said.

(But if we continue to be divided, we might end up having slim lead over the others. That's when all our efforts would be put to waste.)

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LENI ROBREDO

Robredo, much like Poe, is a fairly new face in Philippine politics. It was only after the tragic passing of her husband, the late DILG secretary Jesse Robredo, that she entered the fray.

The Camarines Sur representative was among the hundreds of politicians who trooped to Club Filipino on July 31 to witness Aquino’s endorsement of Roxas.

The ties between the two go beyond the political. Roxas was a close friend of Robredro’s from Roxas's time as Department of Trade and Industry chief and Jesse Robredo's term as mayor of Naga City.

Roxas, said the congresswoman’s daughter Aika on social media, was jokingly referred to by Leni Robredo as Jesse’s “second wife.”

The interior secretary played a prominent role in 2012, when the plane that Jesse Robredo was in crashed off the coast of Masbate. Then secretary of transportation, Roxas himself oversaw rescue and later, retrieval operations.

“He was the very first cabinet secretary who gave Mama a call when Papa's plane was missing, who kept updating us on a regular basis during the search, and was also the first to let us know when it was found,” wrote Aika in an Instagram post.

Roxas eventually took over the DILG.

According to a source close to Aquino, the Camarines Sur representative is “being considered” to be Roxas’ running mate.

“And she’s open to it,” the source, who is in talks with both Robredo and the LP, added.

Robredo however has said in previous interviews that she has not been offered anything and that she's only learned about the likelihood of her running with Roxas in newspaper reports.

Members of the LP, Aquino's cousin, Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino included, are apparently inclined toward Robredo. 

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ALAN PETER CAYETANO

A source close to Cayetano has also confirmed to Rappler that he is likewise being considered as Roxas’s running mate. "They're comfortable with each other," the source said.

The Roxas camp has also studied Cayetano's survey numbers, and they seem convinced that he can beat Escudero in the vice presidential race.

"Besides, Alan will hold no punches in exposing Escudero," the source added.

In recent months, Cayetano has been known to the public for leading the Senate Blue Ribbon sub-committee’s probe into corruption allegations against opposition standard-bearer Vice President Jejomar Binay.

Cayetano has also been known for his staunch stand against the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), which is being pushed by Aquino.

It’s one of the reasons why the President himself is not sold on the idea of Cayetano as Roxas’ running mate, the source conceded.

It does not help, the source admitted, that Cayetano has harsh words for the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which signed the peace deal with the government), at the height of the Mamasapano crisis.

Cayetano even chided the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process during Senate hearings for “defending” the MILF.

“What side are you representing in the peace panel? Are you representing the Republic of the Philippines or are you representing the MILF?” an angry Cayetano said in February.

The senator also got into a verbal tussle with Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Governor Mujiv Hataman when Cayetano insisted on calling the MILF as terrorist organization. Hataman is a staunch ally of Roxas.

In 2010, Cayetano was among the LP's fierces detractors, coining the term "topak" to refer to the "trapos, oportunistas, and kamag-anaks" (traditional politicians, opportunists, and relatives) in the Aquino campaign then. It was also a thinly-veiled hit at Aquino's psychological fitness.

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Who should be the administration’s vice presidential bet? Let us know in the comments section below. – with reports from Glenda Gloria/Rappler.com