MANILA - For Liberal Party stalwart, Senate President Franklin Drilon, the 2016 race is a battle between party bet Manuel "Mar" Roxas and Grace Poe.
Drilon believes Poe will be Roxas' formidable opponent, not Vice President Jejomar Binay.
Speaking on ANC's Headstart, Drilon said the Liberal Party standard-bearer may only have to worry about Poe in the race, considering Binay's slumping numbers in the recent surveys.
"Mar's strongest opponent will be Grace. Why? Because you look at the surveys. When you look at surveys, do not look at one survey in isolation. You look at the three or four surveys before that. And when the survey starts going down consistently, that is a danger signal. That unless something happens which will prevent that line from going down, you're in trouble," Drilon said.
READ: Why Poe's ratings are up, Binay's are down
Drilon also made his assessment in the light of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, another strong presidential contender, backing out of the 2016 race after several rumors about his possible bid.
READ: Duterte says sorry, won't run for president
Drilon said Roxas has just started gaining his ground with his improving survey figures, vis-à-vis Poe's consistent lead in opinion polls.
"Grace has plateaued a bit. But Mar, he started at four percent but now he's at 22...So his numbers are going up, and that is what is important, when you keep on improving your surveys as you get near to the finish line. That's very critical," he said.
Drilon also mentioned Roxas' edge as the administration bet over the other aspirants, citing the ruling party's campaign machinery and the strength of President Benigno Aquino III's endorsement.
"He is the only president for the past five presidencies who has the highest trust rating at this stage," Drilon said.
Meanwhile, Drilon reacted to the tandem of Binay and Senator Gregorio "Gringo" Honasan, wondering why the latter teamed up with the United Nationalist Alliance's (UNA) bet when his long political allies have endorsed another candidate running for the same position.
READ: BinGo is a go: Binay-Honasan tandem first to file COCs
Honasan's long political allies, Senator Juan Ponce Enrile (JPE) and former president and incumbent Manila Mayor Joseph "Erap" Estrada, have endorsed Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos' candidacy for vice president in 2016.
"Surprised, you know. For example Senator Enrile, we know that Senator Gringo Honasan is his protege. And yet he cast his hat with Bongbong. You know, up to now I have no answer to the question. Because I know that Gringo respects JPE and would not make any move especially in his political life without consulting JPE. But here comes JPE raising the hand of Bonbong. That says something," Drilon said.
READ: Erap endorses Bongbong as VP bet
The Senate President also took a swipe at the opposition, saying that Binay seems to have been "abandoned" by his colleagues for some reason he cannot tell.
"Is it a hit on Binay? Remember that Binay, Enrile and Estrada were the three kings of UNA. Now iisa na lang ang UNA, nauuna nalang si Binay, wala na siyang kasunod," Drilon said.
"The three kings angle iisa na lang. So they have abandoned Binay," he added.
Drilon, who is running for reelection under the LP's senatorial slate, also left a note for the voters over the significance of the 2016 polls.
"Choose our leaders well, because what our country will be depends on the kind of leaders we elect," he said.