TUGUEGARAO City – Frontrunning presidential candidate Senator Grace Poe and her running mate Francis ‘Chiz’ Escudero on Monday welcomed the endorsement of the Nationalist People’s Coalition and called it a “big boost” to their chances in the May 9 polls.

”Our heartfelt gratitude to the NPC for their support,” Poe told the media when asked for comment on the endorsement of the country’s second largest political party.

For his part, Escudero said the NPC was a big factor their candidacies since “many have been belittling our candidacies due to lack of machineries and (political) party that supporting us.”

”With the NPC announcement, it is a big push and boost for our candidacies because we will have presence in many provinces wherein there are NPC officials or candidates,” Escudero added.

Poe also expressed admiration to the NPC’s endorsement amid the impending decision of the Supreme Court (SC) on her petition to cancel the Commission on Election (Comelec) ruling favoring the disqualification cases filed against her on the ground of her citizenship and qualification.

”I think the NPC became firm on its decision not based on the impending SC decision but on what is right. On what they think is right on platforms of government,” Poe said.

Poe and Escudero along with the senatorial candidate Neri Colmenares were conducting campaign sortie here when the NPC announced in a press conference at the House of Representative that 90 percent of party members voted to support the Poe-Chiz tandem.

”For us, we will remain fair to everybody especially now that the NPC believes on our platforms and on what we can do,” Poe said.

Poe clarified that the NPC’s support will be through logistics such as supports in every on their campaign sorties in every province.

”What they can help is through their presence in various provinces because it would more easy for us to organize if there are candidates in a particular area who would assist in the organization (of rallies),” Poe explained.

For the last three weeks of campaign period, several campaign sorties of Poe and Escudero have been cancelled such as in Davao City, the bailiwick of rival Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

Poe’s spokesperson Rex Gatchalian said NPC’s endorsement “will serve as inspiration for Senator Poe to intensify her campaign and to further detail to the Filipino public her advocacy to establish ‘Gobyernong may Puso’.”

In Tuguegarao on Monday, NPC member and incumbent mayor Jefferson Soriano organized the Poe-Escudero campaign sortie that include public consultation with students of University of Cagayan Valley, agriculture sector and meet and greet with city hall employees.

Soriano admitted that presidential aspirant Vice Pres. Jejomar Binay and vice presidential candidate Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos are strong in Cagayan Valley but ”I’m for Poe and Escudero.”

NPC became the second big group after Makabayan bloc that threw support to Poe-Escudero tandem.

Despite the NPC’s endorsement, Poe and Escudero said they will maintain their independence.

”We maintain our independence because we ourselves do not belong to a particular party but of course, we welcome the support as long as they support us and realized that we have also our plans that we will push for,” Poe said.

”We will remain independent and we will not join the NPC or any party that might endorse us in the near future. We are thankful that NPC is supporting our objectives, not the other way around,” Escudero, for his part, said.

NPC spokesperson Quezon Rep. Mark Enverga said the entire machinery and resources of the party, which is fielding 4,129 national and local candidates for the coming elections, will be used to advance the candidacies of Poe and Escudero.

After Tugueguerao, Poe and Escudero will join the 12 PGP senatorial candidates in another political rally set to be held on Tuesday in Angeles City, Pampanga. JELLY MUSICO/PNA/northboundasia.com