Call it Senator Grace Poe’s own version of “Throwback Wednesday.”

The first-term senator delivered her first-ever privilege speech last May 28, attacking former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for allegedly robbing her father, the late actor Fernando Poe Jr., of victory during the 2004 presidential elections.

“Mrs. Arroyo became president through fraudulent means. What she had was merely a mandate manufactured for her by her election operators,” the 44-year-old Poe said. The 2004 polls happened exactly ten years ago this month.

Aside from her tirade against Arroyo, Poe also outlined her proposed list of reforms that she says will prevent high-tech electoral fraud from happening in the future.

Poe, a likely presidential contender herself for 2016, topped last year’s senatorial race in huge part because of her father’s strong appeal to the voters.

As political analyst Ramon Casiple noted shortly after Poe’s surprise first-place finish, the public may have perceived a vote for the her as a way of avenging the injustice that her father suffered, noting that the cheating controversy never had closure.

gloria arroyo fernando poe
Time Magazine did a cover story about the 2004 presidential race between Gloria Arroyo and Fernando Poe Jr.

Since Senator Poe already began rehashing the issues from 2004, let’s take it a step further and discuss the candidacy of FPJ. From the moment he announced his candidacy, he faced persistent demands for him to present a platform of governance.

And despite his reputation as an unrelenting fighter in all his blockbuster movies, FPJ never accepted Arroyo’s challenge for them to engage in a televised debate.

Joel Rocamora, another political analyst, speculated that an FPJ victory “will result in a severe economic downturn” and will eventually lead to the return to power of Marcos and Estrada cronies.

Lacson vs Poe, Part I

Despite his obvious unpreparedness for a presidential candidacy, Poe remained a strong contender. However, the separate bid of another opposition figure, Senator Panfilo Lacson, threatened to split the anti-Arroyo. Poe and Lacson made efforts to join forces until late April 2004, but these unification talks never gained traction.

The failure of Poe and Lacson to build a coalition eventually forced the influential Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) to abandon the Estrada-aligned opposition and endorse Arroyo instead. With its solid track record for bloc-voting, Newsbreak magazine noted that INC’s anointment “virtually clinches the electoral race for Arroyo.”

In the final tally of votes, Arroyo received 12,905,808 while Poe got 11, 782,232. Lacson, for his part, obtained 3,510,080 votes. A Poe-Lacson joint ticket, with the endorsement of INC, would have been impossible for Arroyo to beat.

For a candidate without any experience in public office and devoid of any platform of governance to come that close to winning the presidency should remain to be one of the biggest puzzles of the country’s contemporary political history.

Up next: Lacson could’ve pursued FPJ’s election protest, but he did not.

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