What rift? Lacson welcome to join administration, says RoxasBy Paolo G. Montecillo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Transportation and Communications Secretary Manuel Roxas II denied there was a rift between him and Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, who he said was welcome to join the Aquino administration in any position the President sees fit.
At a press briefing, Roxas, president of the ruling Liberal Party, said Lacson was “one of the people in government he admired most.”
“We have a very good working relationship and I have respect for him,” said Roxas, President Aquino’s defeated running mate.
Lacson, whose second Senate term ends next year, was reportedly being eyed for several key posts in the Aquino administration. The President is said to be considering Lacson as the next Customs commissioner, or as the anticrime Czar.
The current customs chief, Ruffy Biazon, is part of the Liberal Party’s 2013 senatorial ticket.
Lacson was earlier said to be considered for the post of Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary, but this was reportedly opposed by Liberal Party members.
Roxas denied any opposition to Lacson, saying that: “I admire (Lacson) and he was one of our allies in pushing our good governance agenda when I was still in the Senate.”
Meanwhile, Roxas said the Liberal Party was still in the process of screening possible candidates for its senatorial slate in the coming midterm elections.
Next year’s elections could result in the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), led by Roxas’ political rival and current Vice President Jejomar Binay, taking control of the Senate ahead of the 2016 presidential elections.
UNA already has a complete ticket, which includes big names like resigned senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, Juan Ponce “Jackie” Enrile Jr., Richard “Dick” Gordon, Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito and Milagros Magsaysay. Incumbents Loren Legarda, and Francis Escudero are also part of the slate.
For its part, the administration ticket currently has just four confirmed members: former party-list Representative Risa Hontiveros, Aurora Representative Sonny Angara, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) Chief Joel Villanueva and Customs Commissioner Biazon.
He said coalition agreements with the Hontiveros’ Akbayan, Angara’s Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino, and Villanueva’s Citizens’ Battle Against Corruption parties were now being finalized to formalize their inclusion in the LP ticket.
Roxas said another possible member of the slate could be Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) Chairperson Grace Poe Llamanzares. “She has the characteristics that will fit our ticket. But she hasn’t signified any interest to run yet, he added.
Roxas said the party’s main consideration for choosing members of the ticket was not “winnability.”
“What’s clear is that politics will not be a factor. We will not get people just so we can win. The Senate slate will be made up of members that we see are part of our ‘matuwid na daan’ (straight path),” he said. “We have a lot of applications to join our ticket, and we consider this as an affirmation that we are on the right track,” he said.