Is Grace Poe running for president again, or is she positioning herself as a queenmaker?
The camp of Senator Grace Poe is running a television advertisement that touts the work of her organization Panday Bayanihan – a reference to one of the best known movie characters played by her late father Fernando Poe, Jr (FPJ).
In the 30-second spot, Poe said, “Sa panahon ngayon na may pandemya, hindi sapat ang sariling kayod. Kaya pala sabi ng tatay ko, kailangan ring may kamay na hihila pataas sa atin. Iyan ang sukatan ng magandang lipunan. Iyong lahat aangat, walang iwanan” (“During this pandemic, working on our own is sometimes not enough. That’s why my late father said that it is important to have a helping hand that can pull us up. That is how we can have a good society, where everyone can rise and no one is left behind”).
The video features clips of Poe distributing relief goods to different parts of the country even before the coronavirus pandemic began. The commercial ends with an image of FPJ and links to Panday Bayanihan’s official website and social media platforms.
Although the commercial ostensibly promotes the charity work of Panday Bayanihan, it comes at a curious time especially with just six weeks left to go before the filing of candidacies for the 2022 national and local elections begins.
Poe finished third during the 2016 presidential elections, and she received 22 million votes when she ran for reelection to the Senate as an independent back in 2019. Although Poe has said before that she does not intend to run for president again, she remains one of the top choices for 2022 – right behind Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, former Senator Bongbong Marcos, and Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso.
Should Poe decide to run for President again, she will have to end one of the enduring curses in Philippine politics. No one who has unsuccessfully ran for president the first time has won it during his or her second try. Those who tried but failed include the late Senators Raul Roco and Miriam Defensor-Santiago as well as Jesus is Lord leader and now Congressman Eddie Villanueva.
Even if she chooses not to run for President, Poe is still well-positioned to help anti-Duterte forces achieve victory in 2022. She is mentioned as a possible running-mate to “Isko Moreno” – who ran unsuccessfully as Senator under her ticket back in 2016.
Poe can also be a queenmaker for Vice President Leni Robredo, if she chooses to forcefully endorse her. The two prominent women does not have much of a political connection. In 2015, then-presidential candidate Mar Roxas famously offered Poe to be his running-mate, although she rejected it. Roxas ended up tapping Robredo instead. In the final month or so before the May 2016 elections, certain groups pushed for a Poe-Robredo tandem.