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Can Grace Poe win OFW hearts?

She will have to do more if she wants their vote. And she should… there are 10 million OFWs around

the world, supporting another 20 million or more of their dependants back home.


MANY Filipinos in Singapore live, work, and play happily together. Except, perhaps, when it comes to politics and more to the point, who they will vote for in the upcoming presidential elections. If they vote at all.

Pinoy Star magazine asked Filipinos in Singapore if they would give Poe their vote in the upcoming presidential elections.

After all, Poe, in only her third year as a Senator, has emerged as the presidential frontrunner in major popularity surveys in the past months.

On September 16, before thousands of cheering supporters, friends and families at the University of the Philippines' Bahay ng Alumni, 47-year-old Poe – the adopted daughter of the late movie legend Fernando Poe Jr — ended months of speculation by declaring her bid to become the third woman President of the Republic.

"I am Grace Poe. A Filipino. A daughter, wife and mother. And with God's grace, I offer myself for the country's highest calling as your President," said Poe in a televised rally, capping a nearly 30-minute speech that outlined at least 20 platforms of government.

Her announcement shook the political landscape, making it a three-cornered fight among Poe, former Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas of Liberal Party (LP) and Vice President Jejomar Binay of United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).

Among the three, Poe has been vigorously championing the cause of the OFWs. The Philippine economy relies heavily on OFW remittances which reach close to US$25billion annually. Unfortunately, not many OFWs seem to realise the power of their collective strength. Many do not even bother to register to vote. (See Page 6: Last call for overseas registration)

OFWs Surewin Zorca Navarra, an IT expert, and Jerrmey Joseff Banas, a chef, who often play basketball together, live in the same flat in Woodlands.

Navarra, 39, who works as a system specialist at NCS Pte. Ltd., believes Poe's pronouncements are enough for him to give her his vote.

"I think Poe is the best person for the job considering that she is aware of the plight of the OFWs," Navarra said. "I don't like Binay because his credibility is tainted with corruption charges. Mar Roxas... Well, President Aquino never cared for OFWs. He never even thanked us or made mention of OFWs during his SONAs (State of the Nation Address), so how


 do you expect me to vote for Roxas."

Aquino anointed Roxas to succeed him.

Navarra said Poe, a mother of three, appears to be knowledgeable, honest and sincere with her promises to OFWs. But Banas, who's been working in Singapore for more than four years, disagrees.

"Her platform for OFWs doesn't sound good enough for someone who's running for the highest office of the land. What she mentioned are things Senators and Congressmen can already do," said Banas, 27, a kitchen manager at District 10 Bar and Restaurant.

"What I wanted to hear from her is how she would improve the economy of the Philippines and uplift the lives of ordinary people so that we don't have to leave the country and our families to find better jobs."

Set to marry his long-time girlfriend Cleo, early next year, Banas said he will abstain from voting, "unless Davao Mayor (Rodrigo) Duterte changes his mind and run for President."

Duterte, once named by Time Magazine as "The Punisher" for his iron-fist rule that made Davao City one of the safest places to live in the world, dropped out of the race last month. But he might respond to the rising massive clamour for him to run for President.

Poe is clearly in the limelight for now. President Aquino personally wooed her - in a series of meetings - to be the running-mate of Roxas.

Poe drew the line when she joined forces with Senator Francis "Chiz" Escudero, whom she endorsed as her Vice President at Club Filipino in San Juan City.

Poe's chances are shored up by the fact that the Poe-Escudero tandem has influential political backers and billionaire bankrollers.

While both Senators claim they are running as independents, with no party affiliations, observers believe otherwise.

The Nacionalista Party (NP) of former Senate President Manny Villar and the Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC) of business tycoon Danding Cojuangco have forged a tactical alliance to support the duo.

"We believe that whoever runs and serves as president or vice-president should not be members of a single party," Escudero, 45, said.

"Our party should be the Filipino people. And we should be loyal not only to liberals, nationalists, or other party members, but to every Filipino.

"Our party is the Philippines, and the members of our party are the Filipino people."


 "I think every candidate usually makes a lot of promises which include OFW reforms... It is possible na magawa nya pero if it will be based on her track record and no clear plan on how to implement... I'm doubtful if she can make it happen. I'm rooting for Mar Roxas."

Land Palmero

Project Manager, Activants Pte. Ltd.


 "When it comes to OFW reforms, Poe has no solid platforms on how to do the things she promised...

I appreciate what Singapore’s founding Prime Minister Lee Kwan Yew said: We don't need democracy. The Philippines needs discipline; we need someone who's capable of enforcing that...

I will not vote for her because I feel that her ambition to become the next President of this country is something that is way above her.

Beyond a good name, I feel that she's too raw, too naive, and promises too much."

Barbette Soliven

Corporate Communications Manager

Herbalife Philippines

 "I will not vote for her because she lacks the experience to lead the country."

Kristel Dianne Ramos

Pharmacy student at the World Citi College, Quezon City, Philippines.


"No. Kumbaga sa mangga, hindi pa sya hinog para sa higher position at lalo pa for presidency yung goal niya. Kulang sa political experience. And besides, during her declaration rally, she sounded too ambitious. Ang gandang pakinggan pero the implementation of those plans and visions medyo mahirap to achieve."

Ruby Deanne Lacerna Dastas

Manager at KFC Management Pte. Ltd.


 "Her citizenship / residency issue will affect her candidacy. I will not vote for her this election, nakukulangan pa kasi ako sa kanya."

Glenn Irwin Cruz Reynon

Program Chair, Communication Head, External Affairs, Angelicum College,

Quezon City, Philippines