By Jelly F. Musico
MANILA, 16Sept2015 – Senator Grace Poe on Wednesday finally ended speculation about her political plans, offering herself as presidential candidate in the 2016 elections.
Poe declared her candidacy for the highest position of the land in front of the more than 5,000 adoring crowd that filled the University of the Philippines (UP) Bahay ng Alumni in Diliman, Quezon City.
”I’m Grace Poe. Filipino. Daughter, wife and mother, and with the help of our loving God is offering to you myself for the highest form of service as President,” Poe said to close her 25–minute speech to the delight of almost 5,000 supporters inside and outside the jampacked UP Bahay ng Alumni.
Just like in 2013 elections when she ran and won as No. 1 senator, Poe said she wanted to continue what her father, the late movie actor Fernando Poe Jr., started when he ran but lost in a high-controversial presidential race in 2004.
The first-termer senator said she would continue to draw inspiration from the people who worked hard to help their respective families amid hardships and difficulties of life.
”All of you are my source of inspiration. You give me strength to offer myself for the highest service of our country,” Poe said.
She laid down some of her platforms of government that will focus on education, agriculture, infrastructures, fight against graft and corruption, tax reform, fight against poverty, overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), illegal drugs, peace and order, health, West Philippine Sea, traffic, transportation, information technology, sports, climate change, tourism and education.
If she wins, Poe promised to immediately enact into law the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill to reinforce the fight against graft and corruption.
”President Aquino has done a lot in the fight against corruption and I personally thank our President for bringing back the confidence for an honest leader. We should continue our fight against corruption,” she said.
”My time now is not enough to give all my goals and objectives. In the next few days, I will give my comprehensive programs which centered in simple principle and belief: No Filipino will be left behind and no place in the Philippines will be left behind. Together, we will also achieve progress,” she said.
Poe said she would allocate seven percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product for infrastructure development, particularly the improvement of roads, railways, airports, seaports and even Internet service.
The senator also vowed to find ways to lower electricity rates in the Philippines and ensure sufficient power supply in Mindanao, which suffers frequent brownouts that affect the local economy.
Poe said she would also continue to reach out the rebel groups and the peace process which the Aquino administration had started in Mindanao.
Poe said her life was an open book, obviously referring to some people questioning her citizenship.
”Who will think that a foundling would be able to reach the Senate. Thank you for the chance you have given to me,” Poe said.
Poe was joined by her mother Susan Roces and husband Niel Llamanzares and children Bryan, Hannah and Nikka.
Poe, an infant, was abandoned in a church in Iloilo and adopted by the late Fernando Poe Jr. and Susan Roces.
As Poe declared her candidacy, rains of support also poured in with An Waray, a partylist that supported the administration coalition Team PNoy, leading the new list of supporters.
Ako Bicol Partylist along with the Filipinos for Peace, Justice and Progress Movement (FPJ PM), Grace Poe Movement, GO Grace Poe, Great People’s Movement for the Philippines, Youth Groups and All4GP Movement.
Earlier, the 500,000-member Magdalo Group pushed Poe as presidential candidate.
Some of the celebrities who attended Poe’s declaration include Jeffrey Santos, Rex Cortez, Albert Martinez and singer Yeng Constantino.
Poe announced her candidacy while the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) is hearing a disqualification case filed against her by a losing senatorial candidate Rizalito David.
She became the third politician to declare candidacy for president after Vice President Jejomar Binay of the opposition and former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas of the ruling Liberal Party (LP).
Poe did not name her running mate but reports said the lady senator will attend Senator Francis ‘Chiz’ Escudero’s announcement about his 2016 plans on Thursday at the Club Filipino in Pasig.
Some groups have been pushing a Poe-Escudero tandem in 2016. (PNA)