Ending months of speculations, Senator Grace Poe officially announced that she is seeking the presidency during the May 2016 elections Wednesday night. The first-term senator is running for the same office that her late father, movie icon Fernando Poe Jr, almost won back in 2004. Poe made the announcement at the University of the Philippines Bahay ng Alumni in Quezon City.
Addressing an overflow crowd gathered in the venue, Poe began her 30-minute speech by praising the resiliency of Filipinos who do their best to overcome challenges in their everyday life. “You are my inspiration. You give me strength to offer myself for higher office,” she said in Filipino. “Di ba’t yan naman ang sukatan ng magandang pamahalaan at lipunan – Lahat ay aangat, walang maiiwan!” Poe added.
She then went on to outline a 20-point plan that will most likely be at the centerpiece of her presidential campaign. Below are some of the highlights, while the full text of her announcement speech has been posted by The Philippine Star:
Education – Increased access to scholarships, student loans, and paid internships
Agriculture – Better irrigation and income opportunities for farmers and fisherfolks
Anti-corruption drive – While praising President Benigno Aquino III’s accomplishments on this area, she emphasized that no one group has a monopoly of “Tuwid na Daan.” She added that she’ll be impartial in going after corrupt public officials and that she will push for the immediate passage of the Freedom of Information Bill.
Tax Reform – She vowed to make efforts to lower the existing tax rates, while promising that whatever taxes collected from the people will be felt through better government social services.
Energy – Advocacy for lower electricity rates, renewable energy, and efforts to address climate change
OFWs – She said she’ll address the red tape plaguing the processing of prospective overseas workers. She also vowed to improve legal assistance for OFWs in conflict with the laws of other countries.
Peace and order – Saying that it is a matter of personal crusade for her, Poe said she will prioritize the need to address the worsening crime situation in the country. She added that her administration will continue pursuing peace deals with rebel groups.
Poe also mentioned the need to address three issues that have become increasingly significant in recent years: the slow internet connection (the slowest in the world, according to various studies), extreme traffic in the country’s major thoroughfares, and the congestion in MRT trains.
The senator also made an impassioned call for the protection of rights of individuals belonging to the so-called vulnerable sectors including indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities, urban poor, women, youth, senior citizens, and LGBT people.
Several media organizations have already reported that Poe will be joining Senator Francis Escudero at the historic Club Filipino in San Juan City tomorrow morning to formalize their tandem. While the Poe-Escudero team is already finalzied, Vice President Jejomar Binay and former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas are yet to have a running-mate. The deadline for the filing of candidacies at the Commission on Elections is scheduled for October 12 to 16, 2015.
PS: To be honest, what Senator Poe presented is far more detailed compared to the one elucidated by Mar Roxas when he was officially endorsed by President Aquino last July 31.
I am personally pleased to hear her advocate for the rights of women, children (especially foundlings), and LGBT people. In the next few months, I am positive that she will be developing concrete proposals on how her administration can address the most pressing issues affecting those sectors.