MANILA, Philippines – Senator Grace Poe has yet to declare her plans for the 2016 elections but Vice President Jejomar Binay's party is already attacking her inexperience, and her ties with politicians who cheated her father.
Opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) interim secretary-general JV Bautista fired at the neophyte senator as he showed up in the Senate before the 21st hearing on corruption allegations against the Vice President on Thursday, May 28.
Bautista first criticized the Senate inquiry but suddenly blasted Poe in the very chamber she is a member of.
“In 2010, Binay began with 2% in the surveys versus somebody rating 39%, Mar Roxas. This is a politician who knows how to win elections. Senator Grace Poe only won one election. She hasn't fully served her term,” Bautista said.
Then he added, “Binay never lost an election in his life.”
This is not the first time the Binay camp took a swipe at Poe's inexperience after speculation she will run for president due to her strong survey showing. Poe ranks second to Binay in election surveys, sparking reports she can be a viable challenger to the former Makati mayor.
Last week, the Vice President issued a statement widely seen as an attack on Poe. Binay said “it would be risky to entrust the next government to those without experience and competence.”
Poe responded by saying that honesty, not just competence, should be the basis for electing leaders. Binay faces multiple corruption allegations and complaints.
Poe ruled out becoming Binay's running mate.
Why run with dad's 'tormentors?'
Bautista also ridiculed the possibility that Poe will agree to run with the ruling Liberal Party (LP). The senator was in talks with LP chairman President Benigno Aquino III in early May about a potential partnership.
The Binay spokesman said the scenario was “disgusting.”
“If Senator Poe runs with the LP, she will run with people who tormented her father: [Secretary Butch] Abad, [former Senator] Kiko Pangilinan. All of a sudden, to our amazement, maybe even disgust, the very thought of Grace running with the same people who tormented her father and possibly even caused FPJ's death by cheating him out of office, that's something we're seriously looking at,” Bautista said.
In 2004, Poe's father, the late action star Fernando Poe Jr (FPJ), ran for president but lost in an election tainted with fraud. The Binay camp is fond of saying that LP officials were then allies of former President Gloria Arroyo, accused of cheating FPJ. (READ: Erap blasts Drilon, LP for Arroyo ties)
Bautista said Poe should instead consider aligning with UNA stalwarts: her father's bosom buddy, former President now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, and Binay.
In an interview Thursday afternoon, Binay echoed his spokesman's words.
“Ako talagang ulo hanggang paa, loyal ako sa tatay niya at naging campaign manager pa ako. At talagang sila 'Noted! Noted!' o di ba? 'Yan ang mga Liberal, sila [Senate President Frank] Drilon. Si Drilon ang nagsabi talaga namang sa himala kung paano natalo si GMA (Arroyo) sa Iloilo,” Binay said in Marinduque.
(From head to foot, I am loyal to her father, and I was his campaign manager. Didn't they say 'Noted! Noted?!' Those are the Liberals, Drilon et al. It was Drilon who said it was a miracle that GMA lost in Iloilo.)
Binay was referring to the 2004 presidential canvass where Pangilinan infamously said “noted” in response to the opposition's persistent requests to scrutinize election returns supposedly showing fraud.
Poe: They're also allied with cheaters
Poe did not hold back in her response to the criticism.
“Ayoko nang sumama pa ang sitwasyon. Pero siguro ay dapat mag-isip-isip sila bago magsalita dahil mayroon silang mga kaalyansang pinakasangkot sa pandaraya at kasama nila ngayon,” Poe said without naming the politicians she was referring to.
(I don't want the situation to worsen. But perhaps they should think before they speak because they are allied with those who are most involved in cheating, and these are people they are with now.)
Poe said that she is still working with people who supported her father, including Senator Francis Escudero, the former spokesman of FPJ. Poe and Escudero have dropped hints that they will run together for president and vice president, respectively, as independent candidates in 2016.
She also named Senator Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, who promised to support her 2016 plans even if he is allied with Binay.
The senator acknowledged her father's close relationship with Estrada and Binay but said that she must draw the line. She alluded to the negative reputation the two allies earned over corruption allegations.
“Kailangan din nating isipin kung hanggang saan ang pagkakaibigan at saan tayo mag-uumpisa sa ating responsibilidad. Kaya nga po, kahit napakasakit ng isang desisyon, kailangan kong gawin sapagkat iyon po ang aking sinumpaang tungkulin. Kung alin ang sa tingin ko ay tama, 'yun ang susundin ko,” she said.
(We also have to think of the limits of friendship, and where our responsibility starts. So even if the decision is painful, I need to do it because that is my sworn duty. Whatever is right, that's what I have to do.)
Poe said her consideration should not stop with what Binay and Estrada did for her father in 2004.
“Nagpapasalamat ako sa kanilang paniniwala at pagtulong noon, pero tingnan din natin ang mga pinagkikilos nila pagkatapos noon. At, unang-una, ang responsibilidad sa bayan ang dapat mangibabaw.”
(I am grateful for their trust and help then but let us also look at their actions since. And most of all, the responsibility to the nation should prevail.) – Rappler.com