Grace to announce bid for the presidency today

SENATOR Grace Poe is expected to announce today that she will run for president, after a media advisory issued by her office  Tuesday  said she would make “an important announcement in connection with her plans for the 2016 national elections.”

Hours later, the office of Senator Francis Escudero, Poe’s choice for vice president, said he would make an announcement on Thursday, Sept. 17.

Poe will make her announcement  Sept. 16  at the UP Bahay ng Alumni in Diliman, Quezon City at  4 p.m.

Her turn. Senator Grace Poe seems to be pointing at herself in pleasant surprise in this file photo, ahead of her announcement of her political plans for next year’s elections at UP Diliman today. EY ACASIO

Escudero will make his own announcement at  10 a.m.  on  Sept. 17  at the Kalayaan Hall of Club Filipino in Greenhills, San Juan.

Both camps refused to give any other details about the announcements.

While Poe and Escudero have remained mum about their respective plans for 2016, their colleagues in Congress believe they will run for president and vice president.

Even Senate President Franklin Drilon, also vice chairman of the Liberal Party, said he believed Poe would seek the country’s highest elective position.

The Liberal Party—including President Benigno Aquino III—has been wooing Poe unsuccessfully to be the running mate of its standard-bearer, resigned Interior secretary Manuel Roxas II.

Aquino met with Poe five times to convince her to run under the Liberal Party ticket.

The President also met with Escudero, whom Poe said would be her running mate if she seeks the presidency.

Both Poe and Escudero have said they intend to remain independent, even though the Nationalist People’s Coalition have announced that they would support them.

Escudero was a former member of the NPC.

On Tuesday, Escudero lashed back at Vice President Jejomar Binay’s spokesman for political affairs, Rico Quicho, for calling the Senate a kangaroo court.

“He forgets that the daughter of the Vice President, Senator Nancy Binay, is a member of the Senate which he is calling a kangaroo court,” Escudero said.

Earlier, Quicho chided Escudero for turning a blind eye to the “kangaroo court proceedings” in the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee, which has held more than 20 hearings on corruption allegations against Binay.

Escudero described Quicho’s “lack of civility and respect for the Senate” as appalling and unbecoming of a lawyer.

He also said the Vice President chose to ignore the Senate probe instead of attending the hearings.

“He cannot claim that their camp was not given the chance to be cross-examined. They were given all the opportunities to give their side of the story in the Senate. But what did the Vice President’s camp do? They chose not to participate,” said Escudero, who had campaigned for Binay in the 2010 vice presidential race.

“It was the Vice President who turned a blind eye to all these allegations. Not once did the public—who deserves to know the truth—hear him rebut point by point these charges of corruption. Not in the Senate, not in any forum that he has attended,” Escudero said.

“A true leader respects the institution. A true leader faces his accusers because he has nothing to hide. And that’s what exactly Senator Grace showed when she attended the SET proceedings and faced her accuser,” he said.

House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., vice chairman of the Liberal Party, said he might attend Poe’s announcement  Wednesday.

Belmonte said he was invited by the camp of Poe “as a mere courtesy,” since he was the congressman of the area.

But a member of the administration coalition who asked not to be named said the presence of Belmonte and other congressmen who are perceived allies of the President was an indication that they are for Poe.

“I don’t think it is a good idea to go there if you are identified with the Liberal Party,” the congressman said.

Belmonte said there is nothing wrong if some House members attend to the Poe event. “This is a free country,” he said, adding a jibe at absentee lawmakers. “I am just appealing to all of them to attend sessions so we can pass the pending vital bills.”

On Wednesday, the Senate Electoral Tribunal laid down the guidelines for oral arguments on the disqualification case against Poe to be held at the Supreme Court next  Monday, Sept. 21.

In an advisory issued  Tuesday, the seven-member tribunal chaired by Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio agreed to set only one main issue to be resolved in the hearing, which is whether or not Poe is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines eligible to run for senator in the 2013 polls.

In resolving this, the SET listed sub-issues involving the intent of the framers of the Constitution in considering foundlings like the senator as citizens of the country, conventional and customary international law applicable to the nationality of foundlings, Poe’s reacquisition of Philippine citizenship in 2006 and her renunciation of her American citizenship in 2010.

The tribunal also ordered petitioner Rizalito David and Poe to file their respective position papers on the issue  Wednesday.

During the hearing to be held at the SC session hall, David and his lawyer Manuelito Luna will face the tribunal first to present their arguments before Poe and her lawyers led by Alex Poblador have their turn. With Maricel V. Cruz and Rey E. Requejo



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