MANILA – The gloves are off as a staunch ally of former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas called Senator Grace Poe a ''spoiler'' of Daang Matuwid ahead of the latter's expected declaration of her presidential bid.
''Wala naman tayo magagawa kung talagang merong ibang daan na dadaanan. Okay lang yun,'' said Liberal Party chairman for political affairs Edgar Erice, referring to Poe's big event on Wednesday.
Erice has been vocal about his desire for Poe to run alongside Roxas under the Liberal Party. He, however, denied that the proposition was in order to eliminate Poe from race.
President Aquino has expressed his desire to keep intact the administration coalition that backed his 2010 presidential bid. 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.
Erice said President Aquino is likely disappointed with Poe's decision to push through with her presidential bid.
''Siguro pinakatingin ko na-disappoint si President Aquino sapagkat sinabi ni Senator Poe pagkatapos nung unang dinner na susunod siya sa payo ng Pangulo,'' he said.
''Pero mukhang hindi siya susunod. Gusto ng pangulo lahat ng magkakasama sa reporma, sa tuwid na daan, magkakasama pa rin sa 2016. Naging spoiler si Senator Poe.''
Erice said Poe's announcement will allow Roxas to move on and find a new running mate.
"Well, palagay ko yung formally kapag announced na si Senator Poe makakamove-on na ang Liberal Party. Siguro magkakaroon na ng panahon si Roxas para sa isang discernment process sa pagpili ng kaniyang magiging katambal. Palagay ko before the end of the month or first week of October."
The former Interior secretary is reportedly in talks with Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo, Senator Alan Cayetano, and Batangas Governor Vilma Santos.
Both Robredo and Santos are apprehensive about running for vice-president. Cayetano, meanwhile, said his doors are open for a possible tandem with Roxas. The senator has already ruled out a possible bid for presidency, saying it is not yet his time.
'DAANG MATUWID MUST CONTINUE'
In Malacañang, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda reiterated the importance of continuing the reform measures undertaken by the Aquino administration.
''This is a very unique situation in our electoral history where every time there is an election everybody talks about change. This is the situation in our electoral history where we're going to talk about continuity,'' he said.
''Ipagpapatuloy ang Daang Matuwid. Marami na po tayong nagawa, marami na pong nagawa si Pangulong Aquino…We are confident that the people, as they continue to see the benefits that they receive, the people will rely and trust the Daang Matuwid coalition and platform. Ang 2016 po ay magiging referendum po ng Daang Matuwid and naniniwala po tayo na ang ating mga kababayan ay marami pong maniniwala po sa sinabi ng ating Pangulo."
Lacierda shrugged off reports that Poe's candidacy will divide the administration and Cabinet.
''Sinabi na po ni Pangulong Aquino not from his perspective. So I have no reason to believe that there has been any change from that perspective,'' he said.
''Like I said, Cabinet members have already invested - like the President have invested - a good five years [of] their lives in bettering our countrymen and we continue to do our best to continue to better the situation in our country.''