MANILA – Senate President Franklin Drilon vehemently denied on Monday persistent rumor that independent presidential candidate and Senator Grace Poe is the secret candidate of President Benigno S. Aquino III.

”You know, the rumor mill is very rich these days. There is no truth to that,” Drilon said during the Pandesal Forum in Kamuning, Quezon City.

Drilon said even Poe has denied that President Aquino is secretly endorsing the candidacy of the lady senator who attended the birthday party of the President a few days before the campaign period started last Feb. 9.

”I was in the birthday party. From what I read in the papers, Grace Poe greeted the President a happy birthday and she said in jest, “Wala bang pakain sir?” The President responded, “We have dinner tonight, you can come if you want. Senator Grace accept it,” Drilon explained.

”You know in this time of politics, there are lots of things like that President Aquino’s secret candidate is Senator Poe,” Drilon, vice chairman of the ruling Liberal Party, said.

Drilon said President Aquino has committed to campaign for LP standard-bearer Mar Roxas.

”That is not only a commitment, but also has shown in the course of the very difficult campaigning during Week One, that indeed he will deliver on his promise of campaigning for Mar and all these talks would have no effect on Mar,” Drilon said.

Drilon believed that President Aquino’s decision to join Roxas in the campaign sorties “is a very good strategy” that would also propel the popularity of Roxas, particularly in the surveys.

”No matter what our critics say, what they cannot deny is that out of the past presidents after EDSA, this is the president who has maintained his popularity up to the last six months of his administration,” Drilon said.

”He (the President) has made it very clear that he, with his policy of good governance, he believes that Mar Roxas is the best candidate to carry through to the next administration. There is no doubt in my mind that he is the best campaigner that we have,” he added.

The Senate leader said the LP has “very potent machinery which could carry us to victory.” PNA/northboundasia.com