MANILA - Senator Francis Escudero may be rumored to be a contender in the 2016 presidential race but he is not showing his cards this early.
Escudero, the former campaign spokesman of Fernando Poe Jr. in the 2004 presidential elections, squelched rumors that he and Senator Grace Poe, daughter of the late actor, are planning to join forces and run together in the 2016 polls.
"Insofar as I am concerned and Senator Grace is concerned, we view 2016 as too far to even talk about it or even discuss it between us or anyone else. Para sa akin, trabaho muna," he told ANC on Friday.
The senator admitted he has not made up his mind to run for higher office in the 2016 polls. "I will only decide a long time from now," he said.
Escudero, who ran as an independent in the 2013 polls, also said he will not join the bandwagon of politicians who declared early their intentions of running in the 2016 race.
"Masyado pang matagal at malayo ang eleksyon at hindi ako sasabay sa maaga nagdedeklara, maaga nangangampanya at maagang nagsasabi na tatakbo," he said.
Escudero said he cannot say for sure if the ongoing controversy over the Priority Development Assistance Funds (PDAF) and the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) will have an effect on the 2016 polls. At least three opposition senators have been linked to the P10 billion PDAF scam.
"Some people say some people have short memories, that Filipinos are too forgiving sometimes to a fault. We would have to give the Filipino voters the right to decide...," he said.
"It is not for us to predict or say this guy will lose or this guy will win...I don't think the voter is seriously thinking about elections, which is two years from now."
SENATE PROBE ON DAP
The senator said he is saddened that his upcoming investigation on the DAP could be seen as a chance to promote himself as a possible contender for Malacanang.
"Yan ang malungkot pag nababanggit ang pangalan mo sa eleksyon. Lahat ng nagagawa may motibo at rason na," he said.
Escudero has summoned Budget Secretary Butch Abad to appear before the Senate finance committeec hearing on July 21 to explain the controversial DAP.
He directed Abad to submit a complete list of the special allotment release orders (SAROs) that were disbursed under the DAP.
"If we want to scrutinize the DAP releases under the guidance of the SC (Supreme Court) decision, we need all the papers that only DBM (Department of Budget and Management) can provide," he said in a statement on Friday.
"We are entering the budget season and on the part of the finance committee, we are carefully studying the court decision to ensure that the next budget we will be crafting and approving will be compliant with the Supreme Court decision on the DAP," he added.
Escudero said he wants Abad to clarify reports that fund releases under the DAP amounted to P372 billion, and not P200 billion as stated by the DBM.
The July 21 hearing will be the continuation of the proceedings by the Senate which were earlier suspended out of courtesy to the SC.