'LP not eyeing Grace Poe for presidency'

By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 25 2014 02:58 PM | Updated as of Nov 26 2014 01:08 AM

MANILA (UPDATED) - A ranking official of the Liberal Party (LP) dispelled talk that Senator Grace Poe is being considered as the party's standard bearer in the 2016 presidential elections.

This, as the ruling party is looking to its allies so it can put together a national line-up for the 2016 presidential polls.

LP secretary-general Mel Senen Sarmiento dismissed talk that the party is considering Poe as its standard bearer.

"Walang usapang ganun," he said.

Sarmiento cited that Interior Secretary Mar Roxas enjoys their preference for the presidency, but Roxas is himself focused on his work at the agency.

"Si Sec. Roxas dun lang po siya naka-focus sa trabaho niya ngayon. Ganun talaga ang ugali niya. Pag binigyan ng trabaho, naka-focus, knowing him from years back when he was DTI [Department of Trade and Industry] secretary, when he was senator," he said.

"Pero karamihan po sa amin sa LP nakikita namin sa kanyang dedikasyon sa trabaho, ang gusto namin, siya."

LP member Rep. Edgar Erice said that as much as possible, they prefer that the standard bearer come from the ranks of the LP. But the option to pick an outside remains. Poe is not a member of the LP.

"Possible [outside the party]," Erice said.

"Of course we will be looking on a wider perspective at hindi lang naman dapat panguluhan, we have to look for a vice president and senators. We are in coalition with other parties so siguro dapat din bigyan sila ng pagkakataon. Of course kami sa LP ang gusto namin LP ang presidente," he added.

Erice recognized that Poe is an ally and that she is popular. However, the party also wants someone with experience and who is in agreement with the principles of the LP. Poe is a first-term senator.

"Well, very popular si Sen. Grace pero siyempre kino-consider naman namin dito hindi lang popularity, kino-consider namin dito yung siyempre experience and of course yung naaayon sa prinsipyo ng matuwid na daan."

The LP stalwarts today also maintained they have a deep bench for candidates for national positions, even as they refused to name who are the likely party candidates.

Last week, President Benigno Aquino III, party chief, already indicated he is consulting inside and outside the LP for their standard bearer.

Sarmiento said the party continues its consultations even as its members continue with governance as they are sitting in government.

Erice doesn't think there will be a conflict between the President's choice and the choice of the party.

"I don't think so... Knowing the President, the President will do the right thing at the right time," he said.

Sarmiento added, "Hindi lang pangulo, may VP at 12 senador. Gaya ng 2013, nagkaroon ng meeting ang kaalyadong partido kung sino makakandidato... Ganun din mangyayari sa 2016, titingnan lahat."

BINAY VS ROXAS

Erice maintained Vice President Jejomar Binay is not among those being considered by the LP.

Erice has been a critic of the Binays. He denounced Binay, who has been the subject of Senate investigations on corruption. Binay has refused to face the Senate.

"Parang si [Chris] Algieri, iwas nang iwas kay [Manny] Pacquiao," Erice said.

He maintained Roxas will beat Binay, pointing out that Binay's popularity has already peaked while Roxas is on the way up.

"Walang kalaban-laban si VP Binay. Kasi si VP Binay nag-peak na eh so pababa, bumubulusok na pababa. Si Sec. Roxas, dahan-dahan ang pag-akyat," he said.

Erice also floated the names of possible LP candidates for senator, which include Senators Franklin Drilon, Ralph Recto, TG Guingona, Francis Pangilinan, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, and Rep. Leni Robredo.

"Very big ang bench ng LP. Of course we have three re-electionists, Sen. Drilon, Recto, Guingona. Sen. Kiko might come back, he's also a member of the LP. Sec. De Lima and Sec. Lacson can be a member of the Senate slot. Congresswoman Robredo, so marami. Masyadong malalim ang bench ng LP kaya pwede pa kami mag-antay ng mahaba-habang panahon bago pag-usapan yang mga bagay na yan," said Erice.