‘Roxas still LP 2016 best candidate’
MANILA, Philippines—While he’s been quiet the past months, Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II shouldn’t be counted out of the 2016 presidential election, a key official of the ruling party said on Tuesday.
“You know my answer to the question of who will carry the flag for the LP (Liberal Party). That’s Secretary Mar Roxas,” Transportation Secretary Joseph E. A. Abaya told reporters in the Senate.
Abaya, LP secretary general, confirmed reports that the party was considering Roxas as its standard-bearer for 2016.
“He’s the only one [being pushed],” he said, after emerging from the Senate public services committee hearing on the upgrade of the Mactan-Cebu International Airport. “We’re now meeting to push this party view.”
As to whether this was the party’s consensus, he said “it has to go through a process.” But so far, “we’ve been in consensus, in unison as to who our candidate should be.”
The party is chaired by President Aquino.
Carved in stone
Senate President Franklin Drilon announced as early as January 2013 that Roxas was the LP’s candidate against Vice President Jejomar Binay in the 2016 presidential race. “You can carve that in stone,” Drilon said in a TV interview then.
Roxas lost to Binay in the vice presidential race in the 2010 elections.
Abaya acknowledged that good performance was the ruling party’s best preparation for the 2016 presidential vote.
“We should work first and serve the country first. Because we believe that we should carry on daang matuwid (straight path). It’s very hard to make a U-turn and go back to the crooked path. This is what we consider as our obligation, looking at 2016,” he said.
Asked if he was willing to run as Roxas’ running mate, Abaya said he’d rather address the issue on the upgrade of the Mactan-Cebu International Airport first.
“We have a stake to make sure that the President serves well up to his last day in office,” he said.
Whoever the President would endorse in 2016 would most likely win, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in January.
Roxas has kept a low profile since coming under fire for the national government’s alleged slow response to the devastation wrought by Super Typhoon Yolanda in the Visayas last November.
After this, he was dragged into the controversy over the 2012 impeachment of then Chief Justice Renato Corona by Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr., one of three senators facing a plunder complaint in the Office of the Ombudsman in connection with the P10-billion pork barrel scam allegedly masterminded by businesswoman Janet Lim-Napoles.
In a privilege speech last January, Revilla said Roxas personally drove him in the latter’s SUV to the President’s residence inside the Malacañang compound in Manila from Cubao, Quezon City.
And after breakfast, Revilla said Aquino appealed to him to vote for the conviction of Corona in the impeachment trial over nondisclosure of his peso and dollar accounts in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth. Revilla was among the 20 senators who voted for Corona’s conviction in May 2012.
Roxas was again implicated in the controversy surrounding the removal of housing developer Delfin Lee, who was arrested three weeks ago, from the most wanted persons’ list. He denied any hand in this.
ABS-CBN reported in February that Roxas’ camp had hired American political consultant Paul Bograd to improve his image in preparation for 2016.
According to the same report, Bograd was tapped to help in the presidential campaigns of Ramon V. Mitra Jr. in 1992 and Joseph Estrada in 1998.
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