Presidential candidate Grace Poe clarified that she and President Benigno Aquino III did not talk about politics during the latter’s birthday celebration on Monday, February 8, a day before the kick-off of the 2016 campaign period.
Poe said she dropped by to greet Aquino on his birthday, and the President then invited her to a scheduled party.
It was just a casual conversation, she said, emphasizing that she had maintained her friendship with Aquino despite their “political differences.”
“Pagpunta ko dun, nakita ko masaya ang pangulo. Kahit hindi naman ako nagtagal. Kasi binati ko siya tapos nabanggit nga niya na meron siyang salu-salo,” Poe said in a chance interview with reporters at the Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) in Batac City, Ilocos Norte, on Thursday, February 11.
(When I went there, I saw that the President was happy. I did not stay long. I greeted him, then he mentioned that he will have a party.)
A Rappler source close to the President also belied reports that Poe gatecrashed Aquino's party. The source pointed out that the Presidential Security Group naturally would not let an uninvited guest into the President's party – those present were invited.
On Wednesday, Poe said in a press conference in Cebu province that she was not the “secret candidate” of the Liberal Party, whose standard-bearer is former interior secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas.
She was offered to be Roxas’ running mate but she declined and chose to run for president herself, with Senator Francis Escudero as her vice presidential bet.
“We did not discuss politics at all. Not at all,” Poe said about the birthday visit. “Ako naman ay matagal nang kaibigan ng pangulo. Kahit na ang pananaw namin sa politika ay hindi parehong-pareho, nirerespeto naman namin ang isa’t isa. 'Yun ang gusto ko rin sa kanya,” she added.
(I have long been friends with the President. Although our political views are not always the same, we still respect each other. That’s what I also like about him.)
Poe continues to lead poll surveys again, with the administration bet Roxas lagging behind. However, she is also facing disqualification cases for allegedly not being a natural-born Filipino and for not having resided in the Philippines for at least 10 years before running for president. – Raymon Dullana/Rappler.com