By Perry Diaz
It was supposed to be a political “marriage” made in Heaven. But the tandem of Grace Poe and Francis “Chiz” Escudero – for president and vice-president, respectively — seems like its heading for the rocks.
It all began when rumors started going around in the “tsismis” or rumor-mongering crowd — or should we say the Chizmosos and Chizmosas? — after Chiz was seen having lunch with Vice President Jejomar “Jojo” Binay in a restaurant in Davao City. No sooner had the “Chizmis” reached the media than another rumor started going around that Grace Poe was withdrawing her candidacy. And while Chiz and Grace denied the rumors, there were speculations that the Grace-Chiz “marriage” of convenience is indeed in big trouble.
The Binay-Escudero meeting was reported by CNN Philippines on October 26, 2015. According to the news report, the two met at a restaurant in Davao City on a Sunday afternoon last October 25. Binay was supposed to be in Davao City to attend the Boy Scout of the Philippines national jamboree in Tagum City while Chiz arrived in Davao Sunday morning. The report didn’t say whether Chiz was in Davao to attend an event.
However, the report said that their meeting was brokered by businessman Antonio “Tonyboy” Floirendo Jr., who owns the restaurant. Floirendo told the media that he initiated the meeting “so that Binay and Escudero could talk again after months of being estranged.” Escudero was instrumental to Binay’s victory in the 2010 vice presidential race against Manuel “Mar” Roxas II. Binay and Chiz parted ways when Chiz decided to support Grace’s presidential bid. Their private meeting lasted about an hour. Binay then left for the airport while Escudero followed minutes later, which makes one to believe that Escudero flew to Davao City just to meet with Binay and, as Floirendo had in mind, to “patch” things up between Binay and Escudero. What for? They’re political rivals, aren’t they? At least until the May 2016 elections. Then they can be friends again after the elections.
But could it be possible that their meeting was to forge a political alliance to snatch the 2016 elections for themselves? Which reminds me of the 2010 elections when Escudero surreptitiously formed an underground campaign alliance between then presidential candidate Benigno “Noy” Aquino III and the opposition party’s vice presidential candidate, Jejomar Binay, who was officially in tandem with former president Joseph “Erap” Estrada. Known as the “Noy-Bi” tandem, Aquino and Binay won the presidency and vice presidency, respectively, to the consternation of the supporters of the Liberal Party’s official standard-bearers, Aquino and Roxas, known as the “Noy-Mar” tandem.
Binay-Escudero unholy alliance?
Which begs the question: Is Floirendo trying to replicate what Chiz did in 2010 by forming an unholy – and secret — alliance between Binay and Escudero to dump Chiz’s presidential running mate, Grace Poe, and Binay’s vice presidential running mate, Sen. Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan? Or could it be that Honasan – who had reluctantly accepted to run in tandem with Binay – would withdraw his candidacy and give way to Escudero? If this happens, it would leave Grace without a running mate unless she picks Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, who is running as an independent vice presidential candidate with no presidential running mate.
But a more logical reason why Chiz would abandon Grace is because Grace might withdraw from the race because she is having difficulty proving that she is a “natural-born” Filipino citizen that is required by the Philippine Constitution. In her search for her parents, Grace took DNA tests with two potential relatives; however, the tests failed to find a match. But she hasn’t given up hope. Poe’s spokesperson, Valenzuela Mayor Rex Gatchalian, said that more DNA samples were being processed.
Bongbong to the rescue
Recently, Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. volunteered to undergo a DNA test to help Grace find biological relatives. It’s interesting to note that Grace was rumored to have been fathered by Bongbong’s father, the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos. Grace’s biological mother is rumored to be Rosemarie Sonora, the sister of Grace’s adoptive mother, actress Susan Roces. However, Grace declined Bongbong’s offer and expressed her belief that their DNAs wouldn’t match. But what if their DNAs matched? Would it hurt to find out that she was the offspring of the late dictator and thus lose an opportunity to prove once and for all that she is “natural-born” Filipino citizen and someone with presidential pedigree to boot?
But I guess there are certain family secrets that people would rather not disclose. And perhaps this would be one secret – if it’s true — that Grace would rather lose the opportunity to be president than take a “bitter pill” that she wouldn’t be able to live with for the rest of her life.
Could it be that Grace may have indicated her dire situation to Chiz who would end up without a presidential running mate? If so, then he must be preparing for that eventuality and instead of waiting for that to happen, he jumped on the chance to strike an alliance with his old ally, Binay, who owes Chiz a debt of gratitude for masterminding the Noy-Bi election coup. Yes, it would certainly be a Binay-Chiz (Bi-Chiz) tandem if Grace called it quits.
On November 9, 2015, Amado Valdez, a former law dean of the College of Law of the University of the East, filed a fourth disqualification case against Grace Poe with the Commission of Elections (Comelec). He said that Grace failed to comply with the citizenship and residency requirements under Article VII, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution. Valdez cited that Poe has “lost forever” her natural-born status in 2001 and never regained it. “Once you lose natural born status, you lose it forever, you can’t reacquire it,” Valdez said.
With four disqualification cases filed against Poe, and with the presidential election only six months away, one wonders what would happen if these cases were not resolved by Election Day? Would Congress declare her President if she won the election? Can the Supreme Court issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) or is it even legal to do so? Could President Aquino declare a state of emergency or martial law to avoid a constitutional crisis?
Perhaps it’s time for Grace Poe to call it quits and withdraw with grace and honor. It would be a great service to her country.