Top Philippine presidential hopeful picks running mate

The leading candidate in the Philippine presidential race, Ms Grace Poe, has picked her political mentor and a fellow senator as her running mate.

Mr Francis Escudero, 45, is the son of a former minister in the administration of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos.

At a brief rally yesterday, Ms Poe told hundreds of supporters that she chose Mr Escudero because "he is not just a friend, but someone we can trust, is capable, and has already served the country".

Ms Poe, 47, the adopted daughter of a Filipino movie icon and Marcos' rumoured illegitimate child, officially announced her run for the presidency on Wednesday.

A centre-left politician, she leads opinion polls on who voters prefer to succeed Mr Benigno Aquino, who will step down next year. Mr Escudero is also the top choice for vice-president in these surveys.

NO EMPTY PROMISES

When we promise something, let us ground it in truth. Let us not promise the heavens, the stars and the moon if we cannot really achieve them.

MR BENIGNO AQUINO, reacting to news of Ms Grace Poe and Mr Francis Escudero teaming up for the presidential race

Mimicking Ms Poe's declaration when she launched her bid, Mr Escudero said: "I am Chiz Escudero, a true Filipino, son, husband, father. With God's grace, I am offering myself to a higher cause as your vice- president."

Like Ms Poe, Mr Escudero appealed to popular sentiments. He vowed to find, if elected, a solution to metropolitan Manila's horrendous traffic, and to cut income tax and utility bills.

Unlike Ms Poe, who has little experience in politics, he began his political career as a congressman in 1998.

Mr Escudero served as spokesman for Ms Poe's father, film star Fernando Poe Jr, when he ran for president in 2004. That drew him closer to Ms Poe. He eventually acted as her mentor and provided a political machinery when she ran for senator in 2013.

Reacting to the duo's bid, Mr Aquino told reporters: "When we promise something, let us ground it in truth. Let us not promise the heavens, the stars and the moon if we cannot really achieve them."

Mr Aquino is backing his former interior minister Mar Roxas, who trails Ms Poe and vice-president Jejomar Binay in polls.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 18, 2015, with the headline 'Top Philippine presidential hopeful picks running mate'. Print Edition | Subscribe