Aquino 'closer' to picking 2016 Liberal Party presidential bet

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President Benigno Aquino III met with Senator Grace Poe, Senator Francis Escudero, and Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II together to finally discuss the 2016 elections.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) – President Benigno Aquino III and his guests at a six-hour dinner meeting he hosted on Wednesday night (July 15) might have failed to reach a consensus on who the Liberal Party standard bearer for 2016 would be.

But Aquino said the meeting with Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II and Senators Francis Escudero and Grace Poe had brought him closer to reaching a decision.

Addressing the media on Thursday (July 16), the president admitted that he would have preferred to have made a decision during the meeting. But he said he represented not only the interests of the Liberal Party and would have to take into consideration the views of other people.

However, he said the meeting ended favorably for all the parties, with everyone agreeing that the changes had been positive in the past five years.

One realization after the meeting, he said, was that there was a big pool of people who could continue "Daang Matuwid" –  the administration's campaign against corruption.

In a statement issued on Thursday, Poe said the dialogue with the president ended with an agreement that the right leadership would be needed for the country to progress.

"Kaya naman nagkasundo kami na ang pinakamahalaga ay isaalang-alang ang boses at gabay ng ating mga kababayan upang masigurong hindi ito mawaldas at mapalakas pa ang maayos na paraan ng pamamalakad ng gobyerno sa darating na susunod na anim na taon," she said.

[Translation: "We all agreed that what's most importance to consider the voices and guidance of our countrymen to ensure that it won't be wasted and use it to strengthen proper governance in the next six years."]

Poe has consistently shown strong numbers in recent presidential polls.

Escudero described the meeting as "cordial and relaxed."

The dinner meeting, which was held at Bahay Pangarap, started at 7:00 p.m.

Roxas-Poe or Poe-Escudero?

Before that meeting, the president had talked to Roxas and Poe on separate occasions about the 2016 elections.

His last meeting with Poe included Escudero, reportedly Poe's preferred running mate should she run as president.

The two senators were part of the 2013 senatorial slate of the LP-led Team PNoy coalition.

LP members, however, are pushing for a Roxas-Poe tandem in 2016.

But would Roxas be willing to set aside his presidential ambition if Aquino should endorse another candidate?

"Malinaw na ang track record natin na may kakayahan tayo na magsakripisyo, na magparaya, na alang-alang sa mas malaking objective na pagsulong ng daang matuwid," he replied.

[Translation: "It's clear from our track record that we are able to sacrifice and give way for the bigger objective of pursuing a straight path."]

Aquino said he was hoping he could make an announcement after his State of the Nation Address (SONA) this month.

CNN Philippines' Anjo Alimario and Ina Andolong contributed to this report.