Palace: Poe didn't put much thought into 'very serious' Roxas appeal

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang believes independent presidential candidate Grace Poe made a hasty decision in turning down an alliance with administration standard-bearer Manuel "Mar" Roxas II against poll front-runner Rodrigo Duterte.

In an interview on dzRb on Saturday, May 7, Undersecretary Manuel Quezon III, head of the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office, said Poe did not take even an hour to fully consider Roxas' call for unity.

"Nakakalungkot ito dahil tingnan natin ang bilis ng sagot (It's saddening. Look at how fast she gave her answer)," Quezon said after detailing the series of events within roughly a 30-minute timeframe Friday, May 6, that saw Roxas issue the appeal and Poe outright rejecting it.

"The clock is ticking and ang malungkot dito (what's saddening about this) is that Senator Poe does not seem to have put much thought into a very serious question and a very momentous appeal," he added.

Roxas made the surprise call in a press conference Friday, saying Filipinos are "worried" and "concerned" about a dictatorship "looming over our country once again."

The call was made as Duterte kept his lead in pre-election surveys ahead of the polls on Monday, May 9.

President Benigno Aquino III later supported the appeal as he called all trailing presidential candidates to unite against Duterte whom, he feared, would thrust the country back into a dictatorship.

Asked whether the administration is still waiting for a change of heart from Poe, Quezon said: "We can all hope for enlightenment and discernment on her part. But, again the clock is ticking, the damage has been done; the harsh words have been uttered. This is one of the tests of leadership that you must make decisions and that your words will have repercussion."

'Not desperate'

Quezon also shed more light on the reason behind the unexpected call for a partnership at the 11th hour, as he dismissed observations that it is a desperate move on the part of Roxas and Aquino.

"Kung tatanungin po kung desperado ‘yung move na ‘yun, hindi po, dahil marami po ang nananawagan," he explained. "Maraming mga sektor, maraming mga individual, naririnig natin at nababasa natin ang mga appeals na ito sa mga pahayagan, sa mga letters to the editor, kahit sa social media, kahit sa pag-uusap ng mga pamilya."

(If you were to ask me if that was a desperate move, I'd say no, because there are many appeals. We hear them from plenty of sectors, from many individuals, and we read these appeals in the newspapers, in letters to the editor, on social media, and even in conversations in families.)

He explained that Aquino was only doing his duty as Chief Executive.

"The first duty of any leader is to think of the national interest. What we are faced with is the problem of a minority representing basically a fascistic approach to governance while the overwhelming majority are not for that kind of governance. Therefore, the leader’s challenge is to find every way to pursue the national interest and that includes an appeal for unity," Quezon said.

He said that this is why Aquino decided to "give voice" to those with this sentiment.

"Sinundan ito ng Pangulo, hindi lamang ng panawagan sa publiko, kundi nilantad rin naman niya ang dalawang kandidato na masasabi natin pinakamalapit sa mga layunin ng pangulo. Ngunit, nakita na rin natin kung ano ang naganap at nakakalungkot ito," the Palace official said.

(The President echoed it, not just the calls of the public, but he also called upon the two candidates we can say have goals closest to his. But, we saw what happened and it's saddening.) – Rappler.com