Aquino to name new DILG chief before leaving for Apec SummitBy Leila B. Salaverria, Michael Lim Ubac
Philippine Daily Inquirer
President Benigno Aquino will name the replacement of the late Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo before he leaves for Russia on September 7 to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders’ summit, Malacañang announced Wednesday.
“The President will certainly be looking for someone who will advance the cause for reform,” presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda told reporters. “All I can say is that the President has been in deep thought about a replacement.”
Lacierda denied reports that choices for the new chief of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) were limited to Senator Panfilo Lacson and Representative Joseph Emilio Abaya.
“Those names have been floated in public but I really cannot say one way or the other who the President has in mind,” he said.
Lacierda declined to confirm reports that Transportation Secretary Manuel Roxas was pushing for Abaya to replace Robredo, who died in a plane crash on August 18.
He also brushed aside reports that Mr. Aquino had been meeting with potential candidates.
Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa has been designated officer in charge of the DILG until a replacement is made.
Abaya, the Liberal Party (LP) secretary general who is on his last term as Cavite representative, told House reporters yesterday he was prepared to take over the DILG.
“My general attitude is in whatever way I could help the President, I will and if he’d offer and request me to do [it], I’ll help. It’s a good opportunity to help the President,” he said in an ambush interview.
“I will not expect anything of the President but as a good soldier, I’ll do whatever he says,” he added.
Abaya said he agreed that the President should appoint a new DILG secretary soon, considering the importance of the position.
But the ruling party has set no meeting to discuss Robredo’s replacement, he said.
It will also make no recommendation on the matter, he added.
House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II said the next DILG chief should come from Mr. Aquino’s own party. The LP stalwart said he thought Abaya would make a good choice.
“It would be better if he would appoint an ally from his party. The DILG is the President’s bridge to local governance. It would be good if they have one vision for local governance,” Gonzales said.
He also noted that the President’s Cabinet had too few members from the ruling party. Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and Roxas are the only LP members in the Cabinet following Robredo’s demise.
Abaya is well-qualified for the DILG job, Gonzales said, pointing out that he is a graduate of the US Naval Academy in Annapolis and has administrative skills.
Other LP members have been mentioned in media reports as possible DILG secretary—former Isabela Governor Grace Padaca, Davao City Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim and Vice President Jejomar Binay, who has nixed the idea.