Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero, a seasoned lawmaker and one of the country’s most prolific senators, has accepted the offer of presidential candidate Sen. Grace Poe to be her running mate, completing the first presidential and vice presidential tandem in the 2016 national elections.
“Naniniwala po ako na ang bawat Pilipino—mayaman man o mahirap, bata man o matanda, babae man o lalaki, nakapagtapos man o hindi, may hitsura man o wala, bantog man ang pangalan o hindi, nakatira man sa Makati o sa probinsya—ay may kakayahan, kapasidad at karapatan na ialay ang kanyang sarili para sa paninilbihan sa bayan dahil wala pong iisang tao o apelyido na bukod-tanging nagtataglay ng lahat ng talento, galing at magandang intensyon para sa bansa,” Escudero said in his acceptance speech.
“Ito po ang dahilan kung bakit tinatanggap ko ng may buong tapang at pagpapakumbaba ang hamon ni Senator Poe na maging katuwang niya sa landas na kanyang tatahakin bilang kanyang ikalawang pangulo,” he added.
Escudero was introduced by Poe to supporters gathered at the Kalayaan Hall of Club Filipino in San Juan less than 24 hours after she formally declared her presidential bid at the Ang Bahay ng Alumni in Quezon City.
Poe has always said that she would be comfortable to run with Escudero. The two have known each other since 2004, when Escudero acted as the spokesperson of Poe’s late father, Fernando Poe Jr., in his presidential bid.
Both senators are frontrunners in the presidential and vice presidential preference surveys. They are running as independents but are expected to be backed by major political parties.
The senator said he agreed to be Poe’s running mate because he has full confidence in Poe’s qualifications and competence a leader.
“Ito po ay tinatanggap ko dahil buo ang tiwala at paniniwala ko sa mga katangian at kakayahan ni Senator Grace. Tulad ng kanyang ama na si FPJ, nasa tamang lugar ang puso ni Senator Poe,” Escudero said. “Naniniwala po ako na bilang pangulo, si Senator Grace Poe o “GP” ay magtatatag ng isang Gobyernong may Puso.”
If elected, Escudero said he and Poe will raise the bar of public service by getting rid of slow and inefficient people in government.
Escudero, former chair of the Senate finance committee, said the next administration would be appointing more than 5,000 people to fill the vacancies in some 500 government agencies. This will cost the government some P18 trillion in the next six years.
“Dapat itaas na natin ang antas ng paninilbihan sa gobyerno upang sama-sama at tulong-tulong nating pandayin ang pinapangarap at inaambisyon nating bansa na maunlad, maayos, malinis at masaya kung saan nananaig ang hustisya at ganap na kapayapaan,” he said.
Using the annual national budget as its framework, a Poe administration will prepare a platform for each department and address the problems of all sectors.
“Hindi pwede ang teka-teka o analysis paralysis sa pamamahala ng bansa. We should hit the ground running from the first day until the last,” he said.
“Hindi na pwede na pinuproblema natin sa kamaynilaan ang trapik papunta sa trabaho o eskwelahan ay habang kulang o walang trabaho at paaralan sa kanayunan; Hindi na pwede na nagrereklamo tayo sa lubak-lubak at binabahang kalye sa Metro Manila ay habang walang kalsada sa Cordillera o tubig sa Tawi-Tawi. Dapat sama-sama, dapat sabay-sabay at kung may uunahin man, ika nga ni Senator Grace, dapat yung matagal nang napabayaan at mas nangangailangan,” Escudero said.
A three-time congressman of Sorsogon who was known for his role in the impeachment case against former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Escudero also vowed to help Poe strengthen the fight against corruption.
“Kasabay ng pagpasa ng FOI (Freedom of Information Act) at paggamit ng kamay na bakal laban sa tiwali, amin ding ipagtitibay ang pagsugpo sa katiwalian sa pamamagitan ng pagsasaayos ng pagpapasya sa pamahalaan gamit ang simpleng prinsipyo: discretion equals corruption,” he said.
“Minimize discretion and we will be able to minimize corruption; eliminate it and we will be able to eliminate corruption,” Escudero pointed out.
While he admits that he and Poe do not have political machinery as big or as powerful as the other candidates’, Escudero said the two of them will rely on the support of the Filipino people.
“Hindi namin ito kakayanin ni Senator Grace ng kami lamang. Kailangan po namin ang tulong ng bawat isa sa inyo, ng bawat Pilipino. Ito po ang dahilan kung bakit sa aming pag-aalay sa aming mga sarili sa mas mataas na paninilbihan bilang pangulo at ikalawang-pangulo ay mananatili kaming independent o walang partido,” he pointed out.
Escudero believes one does not need to be a member of a political party or have such prominent family names as “Quezon, Roxas o Osmena” to aspire for the two highest positions in the land.
“Pilipinas ang aming partido at mga Pilipino ang aming kapartido. Pagtutulungan at pagkakaisa ang aming layunin at ito lamang po ang paraan upang pantay naming mapagsilbihan at pakinggan ang bawat Pilipino binoto man kami o hindi, gusto man kami o ayaw,” he said.
A proud product of the Philippine public school system, Escudero studied at the University of the Philippines from kindergarten to college and law school.
Two years after he was admitted to the Philippine Bar in 1994, he completed his Master of International and Comparative Law degree at the prestigious Georgetown University in Washington D.C. in the United States.
Escudero worked as a private practice lawyer and taught at the UP College of Law from 1996 to 1998. He was also a lecturer at the Ateneo Graduate School in 2000.
His first foray into politics came in 1998, when he took his seat in the House of Representatives where he served three terms for nine straight years. He was sworn in as senator in 2007 and was re-elected in 2013 for another six-year term ending in 2019.