Durano: Grace Poe's husband 'won't be a Mike Arroyo'

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Should Senator Grace Poe get elected as the third woman president of the Philippines, her husband will be the second "First Gentleman" the country will have.

Poe's campaign strategist, Ace Durano said Neil Llamanzares "won't be a Mike Arroyo" if his wife gets elected president.

Durano explained that Poe will immediately pursue freedom of information through executive action to foster transparency in her administration.

"You know, one of the first actions that Senator Grace will do, if elected, will be to push for the FOI, and even before the bill is passed, sinabi na ni Senator Grace that she will issue an executive order that will implement already the substance kung ano iyong FOI."

"So, you know, ano nga iyong ginawa ni First Gentleman Mike Arroyo, in essence, it’s about transparency. So, it is not only the First Gentleman, but all the members of the Cabinet, the entire government that will be one of the core, core message, or forte ng gobyernong may puso, iyong transparency, so, iyung key ingredient diyan ay iyong FOI."

Poe successfully shepherded the FOI bill to passage in the Senate. However, the bill met its demise at the lower House.

Mike Arroyo is the husband of the country's second female president, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Throughout the Arroyo administration, Mike became the lightning rod of critics of his wife, with his name being dragged into many of the political scandals that rocked the nine-year Arroyo administration.

When Arroyo stepped down from the presidency, Mike only had one pending case before the anti-graft court—the alleged purchase of second-hand choppers by the Philippine National Police (PNP) from a company allegedly owned by Mike's family—a case for which he is out on bail.

The former President is the one detained on a plunder charge.

Durano was tourism secretary under Arroyo from 2004 until the end of her term.

Durano said Llamanzares will have a rather low-key role in his wife's campaign.

"You know, iyung role ni Sir Neil, even sa organization ng campaign, is just really behind the scenes. He is more of a husband than anything else. So, kung makita natin si Sir Neil sa mga campaign, it will not be, you know, shouting, 'vote for Senator Grace.' Kung makita natin, isa siyang husband just supporting Senator Grace. Low-key but high-impact."

Despite questions on Llamanzares' citizenship, Durano doesn't see any reason for him not to get the title of First Gentleman.

"Iyong title kasi na First Gentleman, hindi naman legal iyon eh. Wala namang legal position na First Gentleman. Just like the First Lady, wala namang office na Office of the First Gentleman or Office of the First Lady. Wala naman iyon eh. It depends na iyon kung ano iyong role na ibigay ng—kung First Lady man o First Gentleman, kung ano iyong role. Well, for example, like sa MalacaƱang, maraming mga diplomatic functions doon, so, of course, iyong spouse, nandiyan iyan, but it doesn’t mean naman na may official function siya. That is more of a social role. That is more of a social role rather than a legal or governmental role."

Durano did give details on Llamanzares' citizenship. "What I know is, as a lawyer, what I know is that foreigners are not allowed to meddle in our political affairs. But the term 'meddle,' that is broad naman iyong what you mean by meddling, hindi ba? Kasi mayroon tayong mga foreign correspondents dito, right? They are engaged naman sa ating politics, so, iyong term na meddling, well, siguro, case-to-case basis na iyan. But as I have said, so far, sa nakita ko na role po ni Sir Neil, the role throughout the campaign, it will be more as a husband supporting Senator Grace."