PHNO HEADLINE NEWS THIS PAST WEEK (Mini Reads followed by Full Reports below)

2016 BUDGET: LACSON INSISTS FAVORED LAWMAKERS STILL GET MORE FUNDS
[Lacson ready to prove pork still going strong]


JULY 16 --Lacson insists favored lawmakers still get more funds
FORMER Senator Panfilo Lacson insisted Wednesday that pork barrel was embedded in the 2015 national budget despite a Supreme Court ruling that declared it unconstitutional, and that these funds were not distributed equitably among lawmakers.  Based on his team’s studies on the P2.6 trillion capital outlay, Lacson noted there were lawmakers who got more pork barrel through re-alignment and insertions.
“Because re-alignment and insertions are still very much alive, there were some congressmen and some senators who got more than the others,” Lacson said. He said the “brighter and smarter” among the lawmakers were able to make re-alignments for their projects with different government agencies through bigger insertions. Lacson added that he intended to question the budget before the Supreme Court. He also said Budget Secretary Florencio Abad was not responsive to his expose regarding pork barrel because he talked about special purpose funds. “I haven’t reached that. I’m talking about regular budget of the national agencies. We haven’t reached special purpose funds yet. His response was wrong.” In response to Lacson’s allegations, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) on Wednesday denied it had lump sum or discretionary funds amounting to P102.6 billion in the 2015 General Appropriations Act. “How can that be when the budget of the department is already P107.8 billion? READ MORE...

Standoff at Palace dinner
[NEITHER ROXAS NOR POE SEEMS TO GIVE WAY IN PRESIDENTIAL RACE]


JULY 17 ---The six-hourlong dinner hosted by President Aquino on Wednesday night at the Chief Executive’s official residence at Bahay Pangarap did not touch on the issue on who among Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and Senators Grace Poe and Francis Escudero will be running for what position in the 2016 election, Poe said on Thursday. INQUIRER FILE PHOTOS
The six-hourlong dinner hosted by President Aquino on Wednesday night did not touch on the issue on who among Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and Senators Grace Poe and Francis Escudero will be running for what position in the 2016 election, Poe said on Thursday.
It was the first time that Aquino sat down with Roxas, Poe and Escudero for a discussion of 2016. Hours after the dinner, the President, however, admitted he was “closer” to choosing a candidate whom his administration and its Liberal Party-led coalition will back in next year’s presidential election. “Those details were not discussed,” Poe said in a text message, when asked if there was no decision yet on who among her, Escudero and Roxas will run for President and Vice President, after their meeting with the President on Wednesday night at the Chief Executive’s official residence at Bahay Pangarap. But Poe said that Aquino would meet them again by next week and that they would wait for the confirmation of such meeting. Asked if the meeting would happen before the President delivers his last State of the Nation Address on July 27, she said: “That’s the assumption.” READ MORE...

ALSO: Binay says he’s ready for Roxas-Poe tandem in 2016


JULY 16 ---BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines—Vice President Jejomar Binay is anticipating a tandem of Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and Senator Grace Poe in the 2016 presidential elections.
Binay, who was in Negros Occidental for what appeared as a three-day campaign sortie, said he was unfazed by the Roxas-Poe tandem because he was confident of his victory since the Filipinos would vote for someone who had the capability, experience and love for country. While President Benigno Aquino said he was “closer” to making his decision on whom to endorse for president in the 2016 elections, Binay said he believed a decision had already been made. He pointed out that the administration Liberal Party has been releasing information to the media about a possible Roxas-Poe tandem in trickles for days. “I believe there are results already. They are just dribbling public opinion so that their decision can become acceptable,” he said. But Binay was confident of his victory, saying the issue in the next election should be about qualification. He pointed out that a teacher could not become a supervisor or principal without experience or an apprentice could not become a president of a big corporation. In his case, he added, he has proven his ability to run the executive department when he was mayor of Makati City. Binay, however, didn’t specify who between Roxas and Poe would face him in the 2016 presidential polls. Most local officials in the province, however, have endorsed Roxas for president. His mother has roots in Negros Occidental. READ MORE...

ALSO: PNoy says he's ‘closer’ to anointing 2016 presidential bet


JULY 16 ---President Benigno Aquino III. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO/EDWIN BACASMAS 
President Benigno Aquino III on Thursday said he is “closer” to making his decision on whom to endorse for president in the 2016 elections. Speaking to reporters at Camp Crame in Quezon City, Aquino was asked about his “anointed one” in 2016 following his meeting with Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II and senators Grace Poe and Francis “Chiz” Escudero on Wednesday night. “The best that I can say at this point, in this minute, is I am closer to that point,” Aquino said. The president said his conversation with the three politicians was a good sign, adding that the three agreed to continue the reforms the Aquino administration started. Poe, in a text message, said the meeting started at 7 p.m. on Wednesday and ended past 1 a.m. Thursday. She said the four of have them agreed that the country could only move forward with the “right leadership” but have not agreed on who would be the administration’s standard bearer in 2016. Asked when he would decide on his anointed one, the President said he would have wanted it during his meeting with the three officials but said he needed to listen to members of the Liberal Party and other sectors. “Kung ako lang ang masusunod sana kahapon e (If it were solely up to me, I would have made the decision yesterday),” he said. IDL THIS IS THE FULL REPORT.

ALSO MORE MEETING: Chiz, Grace, Mar to meet with PNoy anew next week


JULY 17 --Both Sen. Grace Poe and Sen Chiz Escudero have not yet announced their plans for the 2016 national elections. Danny Dangcalan, File 
Sen. Francis "Chiz" Escudero on Thursday confirmed that he and Sen. Grace Poe are set to meet again with President Benigno Aquino III next week.
The senators met earlier this week with Aquino and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas to discuss the forthcoming 2016 national elections. According to a report from radio dzMM, Escudero said that another meeting was scheduled since the president has not yet chosen his "anointed" one. READ: No consensus reached on common admin bet Poe said that all of them agreed to "listen to the people" during the dinner meeting at the Malacañang. Meanwhile, Roxas said that he might back off from the presidential race to give way for Poe. Poe tops the latest presidential and vice presidential preference surveys while Roxas ranks around third or fourth in the presidential preference poll. THIS IS THE FULL REPORT.

ALSO: Powerful 3rd Force shaping up, Poe, Escudero on the road:


JULY 18 --Senators Grace Poe and Chiz Escudero. INQUIRER PHOTO Only days after meeting with President Benigno Aquino III to discuss 2016 election matters, Senators Grace Poe and Francis Escudero are appearing together at the T’nalak Festival on Saturday in Koronadal, South Cotabato, fueling speculations that the two are definitely running as a team in 2016. This is the first time the close friends are appearing in a sortie as a team that would indicate that the six-hourlong meeting in Malacañang on Wednesday, failed to lead to a consensus on a possible team-up for 2016 that Mr. Aquino would endorse. The meeting included Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, the presumptive standard-bearer of the ruling Liberal Party (LP), and Budget Secretary Butch Abad, an LP official. Poe will be the guest speaker at the T’nalak Festival in Koronadal, where Escudero is also a guest. They are scheduled to have radio guestings. Also expected to join them is Las Piñas Rep. Mark Villar, a member of the Nacionalista Party, a coalition partner of the administration coalition. It was South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes, a Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) member, who invited Poe and Escudero to the festival. If there is an indication that the Poe-Escudero team-up is a “go” in 2016, it is their appearance at the Koronadal festival. This is the first time the two will be seen in what could be considered an unofficial campaign sortie. “They are testing the waters,” said House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., the LP vice chair.
Rock solid Several sources interviewed by the Inquirer have said that the President knows the 2016 team-up of Poe and Escudero is rock solid and that his dream of a “coalition” between Roxas and Poe is fading fast. READ MORE...

ALSO: Still undecided, Noy turns to  coalition allies on common bet
["President Aquino’s heart is for Mar but his brain and every bone in his body are for Grace,” said another source close to the President. The source explained that the President is a firm believer in “the numbers,” referring to voter preference surveys.]


JULY 18 --President Aquino III
Apparently still undecided on his choice for successor after a lengthy dinner meeting with three prospective candidates, President Aquino will hold consultations with administration coalition allies to have a common presidential bet.
This was according to Caloocan City Rep. Edgar Erice, who said Aquino wants to explain his preference to other coalition members. “He wants as much as possible that his choice is acceptable – at least to the majority of the coalition,” Erice said yesterday in a telephone interview. He said Aquino is expected to hold separate meetings with leaders of the Nationalist People’s Coalition, Nacionalista Party, National Unity Party and other coalition members. Western Samar Rep. Mel Senen Sarmiento, who is secretary general of the ruling Liberal Party, said there is no stalemate or indecision on the part of Aquino, but that the latter is simply waiting for the right time to formalize his endorsement. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

‘Pork for favorites’; Lacson insists favored lawmakers still get more funds

MANILA, JULY 20, 2015 (MANILA STANDARD) By Macon Ramos-Araneta | Jul. 16, 2015 at 12:01am


Lacson insists favored lawmakers still get more funds

FORMER Senator Panfilo Lacson insisted Wednesday that pork barrel was embedded in the 2015 national budget despite a Supreme Court ruling that declared it unconstitutional, and that these funds were not distributed equitably among lawmakers.
 
Based on his team’s studies on the P2.6 trillion capital outlay, Lacson noted there were lawmakers who got more pork barrel through re-alignment and insertions.

“Because re-alignment and insertions are still very much alive, there were some congressmen and some senators who got more than the others,” Lacson said.

He said the “brighter and smarter” among the lawmakers were able to make re-alignments for their projects with different government agencies through bigger insertions.

Lacson added that he intended to question the budget before the Supreme Court.

He also said Budget Secretary Florencio Abad was not responsive to his expose regarding pork barrel because he talked about special purpose funds.

“I haven’t reached that. I’m talking about regular budget of the national agencies. We haven’t reached special purpose funds yet. His response was wrong.”

In response to Lacson’s allegations, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) on Wednesday denied it had lump sum or discretionary funds amounting to P102.6 billion in the 2015 General Appropriations Act.

“How can that be when the budget of the department is already P107.8 billion?

READ MORE...

We do have a budget for maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) amounting to P102 billion, and the breakdown can be found in pages 909 to 928 of the national budgetary document,” DSWD Secretary Corazon J. Soliman said.

She added that the DSWD’s 2015 budget also has the following major categories: general administration and support, P980,680,000; support to operations, P265,747,000; and operations, P86,034,766,000.

“Part of the operations budget includes P62.2 billion for the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps); P5.9 billion for Social Pension for Indigent Senior Citizens; P4.9 billion for the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP); and P3.3 billion for the Supplemental Feeding Program (SFP),” she added.

The National Irrigation Administration also denied having a lump-sum fund of P11.3 billion.

In a statement, the agency said the General Appropriations Act of 2015 clearly shows that the P11.3 billion was broken down into projects per region with their corresponding budget allocation.

“The master list of projects is available to the public and anyone is free to scrutinize the 2-inch thick document at the NIA Office. The master list is also published at the NIA website,” it said.

NIA Administrator Florencio Padernal said the only lump sum amount in the NIA budget is the P500-million quick response fund for disaster support for repair and rehabilitation of the agency’s facilities.

“This fund is valid for two years, only expiring by the end of 2016 and cannot be converted into a discretionary fund until expiration,” the NIA chief said.

He maintained there are no insertions in their 2015 budget of P146.235 million, as Lacson had suggested.

Also on Wednesday, whistle blower Sandra Cam challenged Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to file graft charges against allies of President Benigno Aquino III who were beneficiaries of the pork barrel scam.

“Why not file the 3rd batch of PDAF cases? Is this proof that the DOJ is for selective justice?” Cam said in a media forum in San Juan City.

“We need the truth to come out here. The people deserve to know if they are sincere in filing graft raps against these third batch of PDAF cases,” she added.

Cam, president of a whistleblowers’ group, said 15 politicians from Senate and the House, are included in the list of respondents.

“About 80 percent are allies of the government,” she said.

Cam said her sources within the National Bureau of Investigation and the Justice Department want to move on the third batch of cases, but De Lima has put that on hold until the end of the year.

But Cam said she didn’t believe De Lima would file the cases this year.

“Why is the filing of these PDAF cases taking so long,” she said. “I do believe that De Lima is the Secretary of Selective Justice.”

Cam also chided President Benigno Aquino III noting that during his five years in office, he has indicted only three opposition senators.

“Why don’t they catch those in the third batch?” she said.

“I would just like to ask President Aquino if this tuwid na daan (straight path) is just for your enemies,” Cam said. – With John Paolo Bencito, Rio N. Araja, PNA

---------------------------------------------

RELATED FROM MANILA STANDARD

Lacson ready to prove pork still going strong  By Macon Ramos-Araneta | Jul. 17, 2015 at 12:01am

FORMER Senator Panfilo Lacson said Thursday he was ready to prove that the Priority Development Assistance Fund that the Supreme Court has declared unconstitutional was embedded in the P2.6-trillion national budget for 2015.

“The DBM [Department of Budget and Management] should not say that I’m misleading the public because I will take their challenge anytime as to who is fooling the Filipino people,” Lacson said in a text message to The Standard.

But House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. on Thursday stood by his earlier declaration that there was nothing illegal in the 2015 national budget as claimed by Lacson.

Belmonte said the lawmakers complied with the Supreme Court decision on the PDAF when Congress approved this year’s general appropriations.

House deputy majority leader and Quezon City Rep. Bolet Banal appealed to the critics of the 2015 budget to “let the Department of Budget and Management to address these allegations.”

Lacson said the DBM and the national agencies should not say they had no pork and lump sums because they might be caught lying.

“I’m assuming that not all congressmen and senators were given the same privileges and amounts. There is Class A, Class B and Class C,” Lacson said.

On Wednesday, Lacson said the annual P200 million and P70 million in pork barrel for senators and congressmen, respectively, had remained intact in the national capital outlay, although lawmakers had insisted it was abolished in adherence to the Supreme Court’s decision.

He also revealed the uneven distribution of pork barrel and the possibility that some lawmakers might not have received their share.

So far, he said, they had discovered over P400 million worth of lump sum appropriations or discretionary funds “parked” in the budgets of 11 of the then 21 major line agencies of the national government, including the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

He said the amount could be higher because they had not yet completed their review of the budget for the current year. He said they were continuing to establish if pork barrel funds were embedded in other major line agencies and might file a supplemental petition on this before the Supreme Court. With Maricel V. Cruz


INQUIRER

Standoff at Palace dinner By: Christine O. Avendaño and Jerry E. Esplanada @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 01:33 AM July 17th, 2015


The six-hourlong dinner hosted by President Aquino on Wednesday night at the Chief Executive’s official residence at Bahay Pangarap did not touch on the issue on who among Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and Senators Grace Poe and Francis Escudero will be running for what position in the 2016 election, Poe said on Thursday. INQUIRER FILE PHOTOS

NEITHER ROXAS NOR POE SEEMS TO GIVE WAY IN PRESIDENTIAL RACE

The six-hourlong dinner hosted by President Aquino on Wednesday night did not touch on the issue on who among Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and Senators Grace Poe and Francis Escudero will be running for what position in the 2016 election, Poe said on Thursday.

It was the first time that Aquino sat down with Roxas, Poe and Escudero for a discussion of 2016.

Hours after the dinner, the President, however, admitted he was “closer” to choosing a candidate whom his administration and its Liberal Party-led coalition will back in next year’s presidential election.

“Those details were not discussed,” Poe said in a text message, when asked if there was no decision yet on who among her, Escudero and Roxas will run for President and Vice President, after their meeting with the President on Wednesday night at the Chief Executive’s official residence at Bahay Pangarap.

But Poe said that Aquino would meet them again by next week and that they would wait for the confirmation of such meeting.

Asked if the meeting would happen before the President delivers his last State of the Nation Address on July 27, she said: “That’s the assumption.”

READ MORE...

The President was expected to announce his presidential candidate for 2016 after July 27.

Facing reporters at the national police headquarters before noon on Thursday, Aquino said he was getting closer to picking the administration’s standard-bearer.

“I think the best that I can say at this point, this minute, is I am closer to that point,” Aquino said in a talk with reporters at Camp Crame in Quezon City, where he led the ceremonies for the turnover of command at the Philippine National Police.

Asked when he would announce his chosen candidate, Aquino replied: “If I had my way, yesterday.”

Way past midnight

Aquino spoke about the dinner he hosted on Wednesday night at Malacañang for Roxas, Poe and Escudero and an undisclosed number of top government officials.

“We had a long discussion. It went past midnight, that’s why we look sleepy,” he said.

Roxas is the presumptive presidential candidate of the ruling LP. Poe, an independent, is the front-runner in the race for Malacañang in the voter preference polls. Escudero, also unaligned, is a potential vice-presidential candidate.

Roxas declined to comment on what transpired during his dinner meeting.

“I will not (talk about it). That’s OK. The President has already spoken about it,” Roxas told reporters after visiting the wake of a man who was allegedly summarily executed by policemen in Sampaloc, Manila.

Aquino said he was as “excited” as other members of the LP about the announcement of the administration’s presidential candidate.

He said he considered the choice a measure of his own success as President.

“Success can be measured by your ability to train your successor or to name your successor or to choose your successor,” he said.

Aquino did not give any indication that he has chosen a presidential candidate, but said “there were many who could pursue our reform program and that’s why we are happy.”

Asked what was discussed during the gathering, the President replied: “[A]ll the parties that were there agreed that a lot of changes have happened in our society, in our country during the past five years. And because the transformation has been good, there is a need to sustain them.”

He said he would continue consulting them, not just members of the LP and the administration coalition, but also representatives of various groups on who to field in the presidential election.

“We are trying to unite them. I’m a member of the Liberal Party, but I also represent other sectors. There are peoples’ organizations and civil society organizations. I’ve never been a dictator,” Aquino said.

As per Poe’s official statement on the meeting, the senator said it went well and that their talk lasted for six hours, having started at 7 p.m. of Wednesday and ending at past 1 a.m. Thursday.

She said there was an agreement that the right leadership was needed so that the country would thrive.

“Kaya naman nagkasundo kami na ang pinakamahalaga ay isaalang-alang ang boses at gabay ng ating mga kababayan upang masigurong hindi ito mawaldas at mapalakas pa ang maayos na paraan ng pamamalakad ng gobyerno sa darating na susunod na anim na taon (That’s why we agreed that what is important is to consider the voice and guidance of our people to ensure this won’t be wasted and to further strengthen the way government will operate in the next six years),” she said in a statement.

Chinese dinner

Asked whether this meant that the surveys would be their gauge on who should run for Pesident and Vice President, Poe maintained that they did not discuss details in that meeting.

For his part, Escudero said on Wednesday night’s meeting was “cordial and relaxed.” He said they had Chinese food for dinner.

“We talked about a lot of things other than 2016,” he said in a statement, adding he confirmed what Poe had said of their meeting.

Escudero also said the President would issue a statement on their dinner.

No to Osmeña suggestion

It was earlier expected that their meeting would decide if Poe was willing to be Roxas’ running mate. Poe had earlier said she was “more comfortable” having Escudero as her running mate if she decides to run for president next year.

But it looks like Poe was not about to take up Sen. Sergio Osmeña III’s suggestion for her to run for Vice President than President next year.

On Wednesday, Osmena said that Poe would “make a better President if she has six years as Vice President because she’s fairly new in this game.”

Osmena also said he did not favor a team-up between Poe and Escudero.

In a separate statement, Poe said she understood Osmena’s “sentiment.”

“However, we have seen that even highly experienced leaders falter if they do not have the best intentions of the people at heart,” she said.

“I thank Senator Serge for his continued trust in my character as a leader, even as he mentions the short time I have so far holding public office,” Poe added.

Poe had previously shot back at Vice President Jejomar Binay when the latter said the next president should have experience in government, which was viewed as an apparent dig at her.

Poe had said that more than experience and competence, the successor of President Aquino should be honest and sincere about serving the people.

Roxas ‘shoo-in’

Malacañang sources said Aquino’s choice would depend on which presidential candidate could ensure the continuity of the administration’s reform program.

A Palace official, who asked not to be named for lack of authority to speak to the media, said Roxas was a “shoo-in” for presidential endorsement.

“That’s a given. The only question now is if the President would be able to convince Senator [Poe] to slide down to the VP post,” the source said.–With a report from Marlon Ramos


INQUIRER

Binay says he’s ready for Roxas-Poe tandem in 2016 By: Carla P. Gomez @inquirerdotnet Inquirer Visayas 06:28 PM July 16th, 2015



BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines—Vice President Jejomar Binay is anticipating a tandem of Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and Senator Grace Poe in the 2016 presidential elections.

Binay, who was in Negros Occidental for what appeared as a three-day campaign sortie, said he was unfazed by the Roxas-Poe tandem because he was confident of his victory since the Filipinos would vote for someone who had the capability, experience and love for country.

While President Benigno Aquino said he was “closer” to making his decision on whom to endorse for president in the 2016 elections, Binay said he believed a decision had already been made.

He pointed out that the administration Liberal Party has been releasing information to the media about a possible Roxas-Poe tandem in trickles for days.

“I believe there are results already. They are just dribbling public opinion so that their decision can become acceptable,” he said.

But Binay was confident of his victory, saying the issue in the next election should be about qualification.

He pointed out that a teacher could not become a supervisor or principal without experience or an apprentice could not become a president of a big corporation.

In his case, he added, he has proven his ability to run the executive department when he was mayor of Makati City.

Binay, however, didn’t specify who between Roxas and Poe would face him in the 2016 presidential polls.

Most local officials in the province, however, have endorsed Roxas for president. His mother has roots in Negros Occidental.

READ MORE...

They credited Roxas for the creation of the Negros Island Region comprised of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental, which had been pushed by officials of both provinces.

Binay, however, said he didn’t believe that Negros Occidental was solid behind Roxas due to the “warm” response he received when going around Bacolod.

He added he went to Negros Occidental to conduct consultations on whom to field as his candidate for governor.

Binay visited the bagsakan (unloading center) or fish port at Sitio Sibucao in Barangay Banago here about noon on Thursday. He was with former actress Alma Moreno, chairman of the Councilors League of the Philippines; human rights lawyer Harry Roque; and former Rep. Danilo Suarez.

The vice president kept the crowd of about 100 in stitches with his promises – from false teeth, male diapers to Viagra.

The crowd dressed in yellow waved red, white and blue flaglets as a band played in the background.

Binay promised to replicate what he had done to Makati City in the country.

When he was mayor of Makati City, he said his budget for senior citizens was P150 million that allowed them to see movies for free everyday, free cakes on their birthdays and free burial.

After his speech, he joined the crowd in eating lunch boodle fight style, something he had been doing in every provincial sortie.


INQUIRER

Aquino ‘closer’ to anointing 2016 presidential bet SHARES: 14 VIEW COMMENTS By: Nestor Corrales @NCorralesINQ INQUIRER.net 01:31 PM July 16th, 2015


President Benigno Aquino III. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO/EDWIN BACASMAS

President Benigno Aquino III on Thursday said he is “closer” to making his decision on whom to endorse for president in the 2016 elections.

Speaking to reporters at Camp Crame in Quezon City, Aquino was asked about his “anointed one” in 2016 following his meeting with Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II and senators Grace Poe and Francis “Chiz” Escudero on Wednesday night.

“The best that I can say at this point, in this minute, is I am closer to that point,” Aquino said.

The president said his conversation with the three politicians was a good sign, adding that the three agreed to continue the reforms the Aquino administration started.

Poe, in a text message, said the meeting started at 7 p.m. on Wednesday and ended past 1 a.m. Thursday.

She said the four of have them agreed that the country could only move forward with the “right leadership” but have not agreed on who would be the administration’s standard bearer in 2016.

Asked when he would decide on his anointed one, the President said he would have wanted it during his meeting with the three officials but said he needed to listen to members of the Liberal Party and other sectors.

“Kung ako lang ang masusunod sana kahapon e (If it were solely up to me, I would have made the decision yesterday),” he said. IDL


PHILSTAR

Chiz, Grace, Mar to meet with PNoy anew By Patricia Lourdes Viray (philstar.com) | Updated July 17, 2015 - 12:47pm 0 120 googleplus0 0


Both Sen. Grace Poe and Sen Chiz Escudero have not yet announced their plans for the 2016 national elections. Danny Dangcalan, File

MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Francis "Chiz" Escudero on Thursday confirmed that he and Sen. Grace Poe are set to meet again with President Benigno Aquino III next week.

The senators met earlier this week with Aquino and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas to discuss the forthcoming 2016 national elections.

According to a report from radio dzMM, Escudero said that another meeting was scheduled since the president has not yet chosen his "anointed" one.

READ: No consensus reached on common admin bet

Poe said that all of them agreed to "listen to the people" during the dinner meeting at the Malacañang.

Meanwhile, Roxas said that he might back off from the presidential race to give way for Poe.

Poe tops the latest presidential and vice presidential preference surveys while Roxas ranks around third or fourth in the presidential preference poll.


INQUIRER

Poe, Escudero on the road: Powerful 3rd Force shaping up By: Leila B. Salaverria and Nikko Dizon @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 02:51 AM July 18th, 2015


Senators Grace Poe and Chiz Escudero. INQUIRER PHOTO

Only days after meeting with President Benigno Aquino III to discuss 2016 election matters, Senators Grace Poe and Francis Escudero are appearing together at the T’nalak Festival on Saturday in Koronadal, South Cotabato, fueling speculations that the two are definitely running as a team in 2016.

This is the first time the close friends are appearing in a sortie as a team that would indicate that the six-hourlong meeting in Malacañang on Wednesday, failed to lead to a consensus on a possible team-up for 2016 that Mr. Aquino would endorse.

The meeting included Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, the presumptive standard-bearer of the ruling Liberal Party (LP), and Budget Secretary Butch Abad, an LP official.

Poe will be the guest speaker at the T’nalak Festival in Koronadal, where Escudero is also a guest. They are scheduled to have radio guestings.

Also expected to join them is Las Piñas Rep. Mark Villar, a member of the Nacionalista Party, a coalition partner of the administration coalition.

It was South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes, a Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) member, who invited Poe and Escudero to the festival.

If there is an indication that the Poe-Escudero team-up is a “go” in 2016, it is their appearance at the Koronadal festival. This is the first time the two will be seen in what could be considered an unofficial campaign sortie.

“They are testing the waters,” said House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., the LP vice chair.

Rock solid

Several sources interviewed by the Inquirer have said that the President knows the 2016 team-up of Poe and Escudero is rock solid and that his dream of a “coalition” between Roxas and Poe is fading fast.

READ MORE...

“President Aquino is not stopping a Grace and Chiz tandem in 2016, if the result of the dinner last Wednesday is any indication,” said a source close to the two senators.

The six-hour dinner at Bahay Pangarap hosted by the President for Poe, Escudero and Roxas did not yield any concrete results.

READ: Aquino hosts make-or-break dinner meeting

There was no categorical declaration or agreement among the four, particularly on who should run as President and Vice President under an Aquino-endorsed administration ticket.

“The nonconclusive ending of the meeting indicates that the President is not opposed to team Grace-Chiz. That dinner was the perfect opportunity for the President to say something categorical but he did not say anything. The President did not, and has not, asked Grace and Chiz to reconsider their 2016 plans,” the source said.

Another meeting among the four is scheduled before the President’s State of the Nation Address on July 27.

Aquino’s heart for Roxas

“President Aquino’s heart is for Mar but his brain and every bone in his body are for Grace,” said another source close to the President.

The source explained that the President is a firm believer in “the numbers,” referring to voter preference surveys.

Poe is leading in the surveys while Roxas continues to be a far fourth.

READ: Grace Poe a sure winner, says Roxas’ ally

The sources said the President has known that the coalition he wants may be beyond reach but he continues to pursue it for several reasons.

This includes taking into account what the LP wants, his alliance with Roxas, as well as consideration for Roxas’ mother, Judy Araneta-Roxas, who had announced her son’s presidential bid in May.

READ: Surprise: Roxas tells LP he will run in 2016

A Palace source said the President could not break a mother’s heart.

Political analyst Prospero de Vera said “the series of dinners mean that the President cannot lock in a Roxas-Poe or a Poe-Roxas tandem because it has been dragging on.”

Elephant in the room

“The elephant in the room is Chiz. The President’s convincing power has not produced the expected result,” De Vera said, referring to Escudero by his nickname.

The mere fact that they can issue statements about the meetings indicate that Poe and Escudero are “negotiating from a position of strength.”

“Notice Mar is excessively quiet while the other two are telegraphing their punches. They could be saying [the President] could carry both [Roxas and Poe-Escudero] instead of just one of the two presidential candidates,” De Vera said.
The two senators enjoy the “luxury of being able to telegraph their messages to put pressure on whoever is telegraphing,” he said.

On the other hand, silence and no telegraphing of punches only happens “if both parties are negotiating from an even or neutral position,” he said.

LP leaders’ thinking

The Inquirer asked Abad if Roxas would still run for President if Mr. Aquino does not endorse him.

“We did not go down to that detail yet. The President laid down key premises for the discussion, which he mentioned to the media,” Abad replied in a text message.

These are the acknowledgements of the transformation that benefited the people for the past five years, that despite these positive changes, “much more still needs to be done,” and that “it is important that the transformation process must continue on to the next administration.”

He said senior LP leaders, Senate President Franklin Drilon and Belmonte, expressed their support for these premises “and the process he has initiated.”

The President, Abad, Drilon and Belmonte met on Thursday night. Roxas was not at the meeting.

Abad said Mr. Aquino updated Drilon and Belmonte about what happened at the Wednesday dinner with Roxas, Poe and Escudero.

The only complete team

Among all those who have declared interest in running in 2016, the only “complete team” in terms of having running mates are Poe and Escudero.

Roxas’ allies are still intent on having Poe for his running mate. Vice President Jejomar Binay has no vice-presidential candidate yet.

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV has announced that he is running for Vice President but he does not have a presidential candidate. The same goes for Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano who is rumored to be joining the vice-presidential race.

Poe and Escudero have yet to announce their plans for 2016, but they have repeatedly spoken of their desire to remain independents and not join a political party.

According to a source close to Poe and Escudero, if the two decide to push through with their plan to run as independents, they can expect to get support from politicians from various parties.

Support the ‘p’s’

The source said the politicians who have indicated their intention to support the two would come from “all parties with a ‘p,’” meaning most of the political parties currently in existence, save for the opposition United Nationalist Alliance of Binay.

Supporters could come from the LP, the NP, the National Unity Party, and the Nationalist People’s Coalition, the source said.

The NPC president, Isabela Rep. Giorgidi Aggabao, earlier said that party members are inclined to support a Poe-Escudero tandem.

Leaving Chiz out

De Vera said that Poe could be absorbed by other political parties like the NP and even the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Laban, if Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte does not push through with his presidential bid.

“I don’t think any of the parties would carry both [Poe and Escudero] because that would be taking in two people from the outside. [An option] for the two would be to run for independent but that is difficult because nobody has done it in our political history,” he said.

“The catch, really, is the parties will try to adopt Poe as their presidential candidate, put in their own vice-presidential candidate and leave Chiz out in the cold,” De Vera said.

Sen. Vicente Sotto III thinks Poe has yet to make a final decision and is still “seriously considering the possibility of running.”

But Sotto thinks that if she decides to do so, she will run as an independent.

“She’s doing fine as an independent. Why disturb it? She can be adopted by other parties. If ever she decides to run, I don’t see any reason [for her] to join a political party,” said Sotto in a phone interview.

What she has learned

Poe on Friday said that while she and Mr. Aquino have not come to an agreement about the 2016 elections after meeting four times, she said it has helped her to see what needs to be done to improve the country’s situation.

“These meetings with the President help me have a wider perspective of what we need to attain for our country,” she said in a text message.

“In the end, whatever comes out of these meetings should help us discern and selflessly decide on what we should do to achieve genuine progress and reforms for our nation,” she said.

Poe spoke of her admiration for the President, though she believes more could be done.

She said she believes in his sincerity.

“What he represents has inspired many of our countrymen, and has given us hope that it is possible to have a good person occupy the highest post in the land,” she said.

But she also said that even with the progress in good governance, “even the President agrees that this is a process that should be strengthened.”

“And much more needs to be done to achieve inclusive growth,” she added. TVJ

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PHILSTAR

Still undecided: Noy to consult coalition allies on common bet By Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 18, 2015 - 12:00am 1 0 googleplus0 0


President Aquino III

MANILA, Philippines - Apparently still undecided on his choice for successor after a lengthy dinner meeting with three prospective candidates, President Aquino will hold consultations with administration coalition allies to have a common presidential bet.

This was according to Caloocan City Rep. Edgar Erice, who said Aquino wants to explain his preference to other coalition members.

“He wants as much as possible that his choice is acceptable – at least to the majority of the coalition,” Erice said yesterday in a telephone interview.

He said Aquino is expected to hold separate meetings with leaders of the Nationalist People’s Coalition, Nacionalista Party, National Unity Party and other coalition members.

Western Samar Rep. Mel Senen Sarmiento, who is secretary general of the ruling Liberal Party, said there is no stalemate or indecision on the part of Aquino, but that the latter is simply waiting for the right time to formalize his endorsement.

READ MORE...

The President met over dinner Wednesday with presumptive LP standard-bearer Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II, and Sens. Grace Poe and Francis Escudero at his official residence Bahay Pangarap in Malacañang Park.

The following day, Aquino met top LP leaders in Malacañang, basically to explain what transpired during the dinner meeting with Roxas and the two senators.

An LP lawmaker said Aquino asked for “authority” from his partymates to continue with the talks.

Among those reportedly present were Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., Senate President Franklin Drilon, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya.

Belmonte said Aquino informed the group of broad agreement on certain things, “but the question of who should give way was not tackled.”

He said Aquino supposedly had asked Poe and Escudero to think things over and do some consultations themselves.

Another LP stalwart said Aquino is torn between his loyalty to the ruling party and the need to keep the administration coalition intact.

The LP official, who was privy to some of the earlier meetings between Aquino, Roxas and Poe at Malacañang, said the administration coalition might break up and end up losing the 2016 presidential race if the matter is not resolved quickly.

“He (Aquino) wants to win in the 2016 elections, and of course ensure he is protected after he steps down but will his choice preserve the coalition? Will that choice be acceptable to members of the coalition?” the senior administration lawmaker said.

“He was the one who made a distinction between the LP and the coalition on the issue when he said he is open to a non-LP presidential candidate,” the source said.

The source said a consideration could also be the prospect that if an unsympathetic presidential candidate wins, groups identified with his detained political opponents would file non-bailable charges against him after the end of his term.

“Of course, we all want continuity and more reforms but to our mind, that is of course not the only consideration why he’s having difficulty in making a choice,” the source said.

None of the political parties in the administration coalition appears to be interested in fielding its own presidential candidates at the moment.

While identified with the LP and NPC, Poe ran as an independent in the 2013 senatorial elections under the administration slate.

Roxas was supposed to be the LP presidential candidate in the 2010 elections but gave way to Aquino, whose popularity suddenly rose after the death of his mother, democracy icon and former President Corazon Aquino.

Roxas ran for vice president but lost to then Makati City mayor Jejomar Binay.

Binay is so far the only opposition presidential candidate for 2016.

Poe has dislodged Binay from the top spot in recent surveys, while Roxas remains trailing behind other possible presidential candidates.

Escudero, on the other hand, has topped popularity surveys among possible vice presidential candidates.

The LP lawmaker said if Roxas were rating high in the current presidential surveys, then the matter would have been a no-brainer and the DILG chief would have automatically earned the President’s endorsement as administration standard-bearer. – Danny Dangcalan


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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