POSTSCRIPT / August 2, 2015 / Sunday


Opinion Columnist

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Binay-Roxas rematch disturbed by Poe bid

WITH a return bout looming in May 2016 between Vice President Jojo Binay and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, this time for the presidency, what happens when Sen. Grace Poe joins them in the ring?

It looks like Poe (actually Llamanzares) will run if before the filing of certificates of candidacy in October she has a good chance of (1) latching on to a political machine, (2) raising at least P5 billion for a presidential campaign, and (3) hurdling her citizenship issues.

One indication that she is set to run for president is that Sen. Chiz Escudero, her presumed vice presidential partner, has resigned his key Senate committee chairmanships in preparation for a bid for a “higher position”.

But since Roxas is in desperate need of a strong running mate to boost his lagging ratings, the Liberal Party is expected to press its courtship of survey topnotcher Poe.

The administration party is in a position to answer Poe’s concerns mentioned above: (1) the LP mammoth machine is revving up, ready to pick her up, (2) if she does not mind getting richer, a big pile awaits her, win or lose, and (3) administration friends in the Supreme Court can be enlightened about her citizenship and related problems.

The alternative (if Poe insists on running) is that the same Palace friends in the High Court, and also in the Commission on Elections, may just become unsupportive — leading not only to her disqualification but also her prosecution.

But if Poe agrees to partner with Roxas, citizenship and such issues against her could become so complicated that the SC would need more time — to dribble the ball until the questions are mooted by her proclamation as the elected vice president.

Another benefit of running for vice president with Roxas is that if the 46-year-old freshman senadora wins (which is most likely), she would gain valuable time in the Executive branch preparing for the presidency six years later.

At this stage, Poe looks somewhat “hilaw” (unripe) for the awesome demands of the presidency. She needs more time to ripen into presidential material. Serving as vice president muna would help.

Chiz gives up key committee chairs

IF POE runs with Roxas, what will happen to Escudero who has become inseparable to her in a buy one-take one package? Imagine the implications of their running against each other for vice president!

But Poe seems inclined to ignore Malacañang overtures, damn the citizenship torpedoes and run with Escudero by her side. Being the top bet, the machine and money she needs could materialize in time.

She is likely to take away votes from the administration bet rather than from Binay who, despite the erosion of his following by corruption allegations, still has a hardcore support of at least 27 percent of the votes to build on.

On the other hand, the administration has to work doubly hard campaigning for both Roxas and President Noynoy Aquino. This is because Roxas cannot stand on his own, but must rely heavily on the pass-on approval of a lame duck President’s performance.

One hint of a Poe bid for the presidency is Escudero’s giving up irrevocably, out of delicadeza, the chairmanship of the powerful Senate finance committee and the joint congressional oversight committee on public expenditures.

He explained: “I believe that it behooves me to step down to ensure that deliberations on the general appropriations bill – the single most important piece of legislation passed by the Congress each year – are not tainted by suspicions or perceptions of partisan politics.”

Poe said separately: “I’m happy that he (Escudero) is resolute in his decision. That’s good for him.” She added that Escudero did not consult her about resigning, but that if he did she would have agreed with him.

Escudero will remain a member of the Senate majority bloc and help ensure the timely passage of the 2016 budget and that safeguards are in place to make it consistent with the Supreme Court rulings on the Priority Development Assistance Fund (congressional pork) and the Disbursement Acceleration Program (presidential pork).

Three-way mayoral fight in Angeles

IN ANGELES City, three-term Vice Mayor Vicky Vega announced Friday she was throwing her hat in next May’s mayoral contest in the city against her erstwhile ally Mayor Ed Pamintuan and come-backing ex-Pampanga governor, Sen. Lito Lapid.

Pamintuan and Vega were elected under Pampanga’s dominant political party, Kambilan, controlled by the family of Gov. Lilia Pineda. Lapid is also identified with Kambilan.

“I need to do this to give my city and constituents access to good government,” Vega said when asked what prompted her to go against Pamintuan.

She was guest in a forum hosted by the Holy Angel University and the Capampangan in Media Inc. (CAMI). Also present was Ms Preciosa S. Soliven, the moving spirit of O.B. Montessori Center and O.B. Child and Community Foundation.

On the issue of “good government,” Vega disclosed what she said were questionable decisions of the city administration such as its securing a P287-million loan from the Development Bank of the Philippines to finance ill-conceived projects in health, education and infrastructure.

Vega pointed to a proposed P16-million fountain in the city’s “heritage corridor” to be funded out of a loan as “an example of wasteful use of resources, let alone its being obviously over-priced.”

She asked: “Why waste funds on a fountain when the city’s public school system is in dire need of extra funding to help it adjust to the requirements of K-to-12 educational program?”

In this connection, Ms Soliven volunteered the free services of the O.B. Montessori to train the city’s public school teachers to help them cope with the K-to-12 system.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of August 2, 2015)

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