President Aquino is still hoping for Roxas-Poe tandem

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — He's not yet ready to give up.

President Benigno S. Aquino III said on Monday (August 3) said he remained hopeful that Sen. Grace Poe would run as vice president to presidential aspirant Interior Secretary Manuel "Mar" Roxas in the 2016 elections.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the 111th anniversary of the Bureau of Internal Revenue, he said he would also want Poe or Sen. Francis Escudero to join him and the Liberal Party "towards the direction of Daang Matuwid."

Ultimately, Aquino is aiming for a "very united group" that can bring his reform agenda to victory in the 2016 polls.

"Palagay namin na majority ay sang-ayon sa amin pero kapag naghati tayo nang naghati nang naghati, baka naman maging manipis na manipis 'yung lamang at doon manganib lahat ng pinaghirapan natin," he said.

[Translation: "We think that a majority agrees with us. But if we keep on dividing ourselves, we're only going to get thinner — and that's going to endanger what we've worked for."]

The president earlier failed to convince Poe and Escudero to join Roxas. It's still unclear whether the two senators will run for higher posts, either individually or as a tandem.

But the Liberal Party is giving Poe until next month to decide to support the party, even if she's not an official member.

"Marami pa rin sa mga kasama namin na umaasa na hindi basta-basta malilimutan ni Senator Grace ang pinagsamahan namin noong 2013 sa pagtataguyod ng pagbabago, reporma dulot ng tuwid na daan," Aquino said.

"So we are still hoping and praying that Senator Grace may finally realize na ang Daang Matuwid ay 'di exclusive. Walang nagmamay-ari. Sama-sama kaming lahat na naniniwalang maglalakbay dito."

[Translation: "A lot of us are hoping that Senator Poe won't forget our coalition in 2013, when we pushed for changed and reform caused by the Daang Matuwid. So we're still hoping and praying that Senator Grace would  finally realize that the Daang Matuwid is not exclusive. No one owns it. All of us who believe in it will walk the same path."]

And even though Aquino has a say on who will be Roxas's running mate - the president said that Roxas's own decision on the matter must be given weight.

Aquino also promises to help Roxas in his presidential campaign.

"Parang ang dating kasi 'nung tono nitong mga kritikong ito dapat huwag akong mangampanya," he said.

"So kapag Presidente ka ng Republika dapat wala ka ng opinyon? Tapos on the one hand, may i-endorso ka tapos 'bahala ka na sa buhay mo.' Parang napakamalamya naman yata 'nung sinasabi natin na kailangan may magpatuloy."

[Translation: "It's as if the critics are hinting that I should not campaign. Does that mean that the President of the Republic is not entitled to an opinion? [Because] on the one hand, you've endorsed someone and then you say 'Do whatever you want with your life.' When we say that, it's like we're weakening our need for continuity."]                                                                 

As for accusations that the administration will use public money to fund Roxas' campaign, Aquino had this to say:

"So, ang tanong ko lang doon 'yung: Have we ever done that? Baka doon tayo bumalik muna. Bago ka mag-akusa meron ba kaming tradisyon na ginagawa ang ganoon?"

[Translation: "My question there is: 'Have we ever done that?'" Before you make accusations, ask yourself: 'Do we have a tradition of doing that?'"]

Rather than making the presidential campaign all about personalities, Aquino said he would want to push for an issue-based or platform-based politics.