Escudero: Poe is her own woman
CABANATUAN CITY—Presidential front-runner Senator Grace Poe is her own woman who cannot be dictated upon when she makes any decision, Senator Francis Escudero said Sunday.
Escudero, Poe’s running mate, said Poe demonstrated her independence when she criticized President Benigno Aquino III and said he was responsible for the Mamasapano massacre.
Escudero said Aquino was the one who gave Poe her break in the government when he appointed her chairwoman of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board.
“Yet when it came to Mamasapano, it was Senator Poe herself who said the President was responsible for Mamasapano,” Escudero said, referring to the massacre of 44 Special Action Force commandos in Maguindanao on Jan. 25 this year.
Escudero was responding to suggestions that Poe, being new and inexperienced, may only be manipulated and dictated upon by advisers including him once she became President.
“No, she cannot be dictated upon,” Escudero said.
He made his statement even as Poe said the country’s reliance on imports to secure enough rice supply for some 100 million Filipinos during the El Niño months showed how vulnerable the agricultural sector was in the face of extreme weather.
She said this was not the first time the country had experienced El Niño and the sad reality was that it would not be the last.
“We have to look for long-term solutions that will help our farmers prepare for and overcome the challenges posed by extreme weather events,” said Poe whose platform of government as a presidential candidate includes more help to the agricultural sector.
Escudero said experience should not be made an issue in the presidential race since Aquino himself was relatively inexperienced when he ran for President.
“Why was experience not so important then and why has it suddenly become so important now?” he said.
He downplayed the lack of an established party to back the Poe-Escudero tandem, saying it was the people and not the party that would ensure their victory in 2016.
He said parties never played a crucial role in the presidential elections in 1992, 1998 and 2010.
“If you recall, President Ramos had no established party when he ran for President in 1992 because he lost in the LDP convention to Ramon Mitra. He founded Lakas-Tao,” Escudero said.
“The same with President Joseph Estrada in 1998 when he formed LAMP, and President Aquino who only had 21 LP stalwarts in 2010.”
One exception was President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in 2004 because she was then the sitting President, Escudero said.
“It’s the people who vote, not the party. You may have a party but if you don’t have people down there, it’s nothing,” he said.