Press Release
February 16, 2016


If she becomes the first foundling to be elected president of the Philippines, Sen. Grace Poe will return to the church in Jaro, where she was found as an abandoned infant, and take her oath of office in front of the people who had nurtured her.

Speaking before thousands of supporters at her political rally in Jaro, Poe said the huge crowd that came out to welcome her, a daughter of Iloilo, disproved those who say the Ilonggos were not for Poe. She vowed to return to them if she wins.

"Kapag ginusto ng Diyos at ginusto ng ating mga kababayan na ako ay bigyan ng pagkakataon na maging pangulo ng ating bansa, ako ay babalik dito sa Jaro, sa harapan ng katedral at manunumpa dito bilang pangulo ninyo," Poe said, gathering cheers from the crowd.

Poe said she would never forget that it was the kindness of Ilonggos who helped her get to where she is now, the country's top senator and the first foundling to ever run for president.

"Hindi natin makakalimutan ang ating pinanggalingan. Kung hindi dahil sa inyo, wala ako rito," she said.

Susan Roces, the senator's adoptive mother, joined Poe on the campaign trail for the first time. She went around Iloilo's public markets and rallied supporters to put an end to discrimination against foundlings.

Poe was in Iloilo on the second week of the campaign, meeting with local officials and supporters in Carles, Iloilo City, Barotac Viejo and Jaro.

It was in Jaro that Poe held her first political rally in Western Visayas.

She said the plaza in front of the Jaro Cathedral was chosen because it was symbolic for her, an abandoned baby who was found and nurtured by a kind Ilonggo family and later adopted by Roces and movie icon Fernando Poe Jr., who gave her opportunities she otherwise would not have had.

"Mahilig talaga ako sa tabi ng simbahan. Alam mo 'yung mga taong may pinagdadaanan, talagang malakas ang kapit sa Diyos," Poe said in an earlier press conference.

Allies of Poe's rivals had questioned her residency and citizenship, saying she was not natural-born Filipino because she was a foundling whose biological parents could not be traced. Poe has elevated the case before the Supreme Court, which concluded the oral arguments today.

"Higit sa lahat, ito ay isang maganda at makasaysayang lugar din, 'yung plaza mismo. 'Yung pagtitipon ng ating mga kababayan noong sinauna pang panahon. So maganda na doon magtipon-tipon para naman maramdaman din ng ating mga kababayan na ako'y taga-Jaro, taga-Iloilo, na ako talaga ay kanilang kasimanwa (kababayan)," the leading presidential candidate said.

Before speaking at the political rally, Poe spent a few minutes of prayer inside the Jaro Cathedral. Outside, Edgardo Militar, the man who had found her in the same church, and his family were all-out support at the rally.

Also waiting for Poe was Lorena Rodriguez-Dechavez of Guimaras, one of the people who had approached the senator during an earlier visit to Iloilo. Dechavez and her sibling, Junie Rodriguez, said Poe could be their sister's daughter. The DNA tests, however, turned out negative.

Poe thanked them, nevertheless, saying she wishes her blood relatives, should she ever find them, were as decent and compassionate.

Joining Poe at the rally were her running mate, Sen. Francis Escudero, who tops vice-presidential surveys, and nine of the 12 Partido Galing at Puso senatorial bets: Manila Vice Mayor Isko Moreno, reelectionist Sen. Vicente Sotto III, former senator Richard Gordon, Bayan Muna Rep Neri Colmenares, ACT-CIS Rep. Samuel Pagdilao, Valenzuela Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian, actor Edu Manzano, migrant workers' advocate Susan Ople, and lawyer Lorna Kapunan. Former senator Miguel Zubiri sent his wife Audrey to represent him.

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