MANILA – Allies of the Aquino administration are breaking away from Mar Roxas to join forces with the Makabayan bloc and back the looming presidential bid of Senator Grace Poe.
Deputy Speaker Roberto Puno, National Unity Party (NUP) president, confirmed that his party is in talks with the Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC), the country's 2nd largest party, the Nacionalista Party and the Makabayan bloc to back Poe's presidential bid.
"The leaderships of NUP, NP, NPC and Makabayan have met several times amongst ourselves and once with Senator Grace Poe,'' Puno said.
''NUP is still in the process of vetting the presidential candidates and have not yet made a party stand. Senator Grace knows that this is the status with NUP. That said, Congressman (Ronaldo) Zamora was not inaccurate in saying 'she will run under a political coalition; she will remain independent' and I can confirm that we met with Senator Grace Poe last night."
NPC Spokesperson Mark Enverga, in a separate statement, said, "We are exploring all possibilities. Unfortunately, NPC remains non-committal at this point. The party is still in the process of choosing the presidentiable to support for 2016."
The Makabayan bloc also confirmed talks with NPC, NP, and NUP are ongoing regarding the formation of the alliance.
''Ipoproseso pa namin sa darating na Sept. 30 sa Makabayan Convention ang magiging pinal na pasya sa susuportahan naming presidential at vice presidential candidate," the bloc said.
Zamora, in a phone interview, said, "Nothing is final. We're in the process of discussion... The ones that are talking are NP, NUP, NPC and Makabayan.
"We have several representatives each. And their big bosses are all there - chairman, president, secretary general. That's the usual way. There are things that have to be discussed. You're catching us at a very early stage. We haven't really come up with any kind of coalition agreement yet."
Zamora said he expects more allies to come out in the open later on in the campaign.
"Many of us are ready to come out already. Why don't you just take a look at the people going there later on. Just so you can get an idea if they are just individuals," he said, referring to an event where Poe is expected to declare her presidential bid today.
Poe's announcement of her presidential bid effectively abandons the offer of the ruling Liberal Party for her to become Roxas' running mate.
President Aquino has expressed his desire to keep the administration coalition that backed his 2010 presidential bid intact. A loosening of this coalition will be a big blow to Roxas, who is trailing behind Poe and Vice President Jejomar Binay, another presidential aspirant, in the pre-election surveys.