Mar isn’t it yet—PNoy
INTERIOR Secretary Manuel Roxas II is not assured of being the standard bearer of the administration in the 2016 presidential elections, President Benigno Aquino III said Tuesday.
Aquino’s statement came as a surprise since Roxas, who yielded his run for the presidency in 2010, was widely regarded as the next presidential candidate for the ruling Liberal Party.
In January, Senate President Franklin Drilon reinforced this view when asked who would be the party’s standard bearer.
“Mar Roxas...you can write that in stone,” Drilon said. “So far as the LP is concerned, we believe that he is best qualified for 2016.”
The President’s pronouncement also came a day after House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, an LP stalwart, said that the performance of former senator Panfilo Lacson as post-Yolanda rehabilitation czar can be a deal-maker for his political career.
Asked if a successful performance could turn Lacson into a viable presidential bet in 2016, Belmonte said: “Anything is possible.”
During the annual Bulong Pulungan media forum Tuesday, Aquino said the LP remains undecided on who it will field for the next presidential polls.
“Is he being groomed? Our party has not decided on that. We have not discussed it. We are focused on solving the problems of today,” the President said.
Aquino said if Roxas has been visible lately, it is only because he is the Interior Secretary and vice-chairman of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.
“Would the secretary of the Interior, given all of the calamities that have befallen us—man-made and natural—be of service if he were absent from the scenes? So that is just but the function of the job. And, again, I want to get down to the people as much as possible and my alter egos perform that function also for me,” the President said.
Roxas was earlier criticized for politicizing the relief efforts when he asked Tacloban Mayor Alfred Romualdez to write a formal letter stating that he could no longer function as head of the local government unit.
Alex Avisado, the mayor’s lawyer, said the Interior chief even wanted the Tacloban City Council to pass a resolution stating that Romualdez can no longer function and was surrendering authority to Roxas.
Lacson, on the other hand, was described by the President as a “no-nonsense” guy.
Even opposition politicians welcomed Lacson’s appointment.
Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez said a “fresh set of eyes and boots” will help hasten the implementation of the reconstruction program in the areas devastated by the super typhoon.
“We are very happy with the decision of the President to appoint Senator Lacson. He is a dedicated public servant, hardworking and very professional,” Romualdez said.
“This is a step in the right direction. We need someone to oversee the reconstruction full-time. It is always better to have a fresh set of eyes and a fresh set of boots because I am sure Interior Secretary
Manuel Roxas II and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin are already tired and have their hands full,” Romualdez added.
Aquino acknowledged that other political actors who have set their sights on 2016 have already made their intentions known, and that some may even want to be the administration’s standard bearer.
“There are several that have already declared their ambition. But man proposes, and God disposes,” the President said.
Roxas, the original standard bearer of the Liberal Party for the 2010 polls, agreed to slide down to the vice presidential race as Aquino’s running-mate but eventually lost to Vice President Jejomar Binay, who has made no secret of his presidential ambitions.
At the same forum, the President said he would not stand in the way of his showbiz sister, Kris Aquino-Yap, “if she feels driven” to seek an elective post in 2016.
But he said his youngest sister has not intimated any plans of running for any local or national post.
“The last time she made a pronouncement, it concerned... being a stage mother,” Aquino said.
“The bottom line is, I adhere to that saying by the Americans, I think, that if you want to get even with somebody get them into politics. And I love my sister,” the President added.
In an interview in May, Yap said she would most likely run for governor in Tarlac.