‘Cabinet members should serve people, not Roxas’

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MEMBERS of the Cabinet should spend their remaining time in government serving the public, not campaign for Liberal Party (LP) standard bearer Manuel Roxas 2nd, Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero said.

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Escudero noted that while there is no law that prohibits appointees of President Benigno Aquino 3rd from campaigning for a candidate, they should somehow show decency because the Filipino people are still paying for their salaries.

“Instead of attending to the problems faced by our countrymen, these cabinet secretaries are here (in Cebu) together with the candidates of LP to campaign,” Escudero, who is running for vice president, said, referring to the cabinet officials who were present in the LP campaign sortie in Cebu last week.

He issued the statement after receiving information that some administration officials are using their office to get support for Roxas.

Escudero was told by a resident of Negros Occidental about a supposed meeting between cabinet secretaries, barangay officials and beneficiaries of the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT). Members of the media were reportedly barred from covering the meeting.

Escudero said the Constitution forbids the president from seeking a second term so that he or she will not be able to use his office in the campaign.

But he lamented that although Aquino is not running, he is fully campaigning for Roxas, his chosen successor.

“I’m not saying this because it is not Senator Grace who was endorsed by the President, but it would be better if the president would just focus on ensuring that we will have clean and peaceful elections instead of rooting for a candidate,” Escudero pointed out.

He noted that Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and Social Welfare Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman are still receiving salaries sourced from the taxes being collected from the people, that is why they should be serving the people.

“Wala silang karapatan at rason gamitin ‘yung panahon nila hindi para sa atin at para mangampanya lamang sa kandidato nila. (They don’t have the right and reason not to allocate their time serving us the people and help campaign for their candidate),” Escudero said.

But Malacañang on Sunday said it sees nothing wrong with the President going around the country to campaign for Roxas.

“President Aquino is actively campaigning for the candidates of the Daang Matuwid [Straight Path] Coalition because he believes it is his duty to our bosses — the Filipino people — to ensure the continuity of good governance that is essential to the attainment of inclusive growth for future generations of Filipinos,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said.

Coloma maintained that nobody should fear the actions of the President because the latter is committed to fair play, especially during electoral exercises.

“He is also determined to ensure the conduct of fair and credible elections by respecting the independence of the Comelec [Commission on Elections],” he said.

Meanwhile, Senator Grace Poe said that she has no intention of keeping Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) commissioner Kim Henares if she wins the presidency.

Poe said while Henares was able to project herself as a brave and determined government official, the problem of undercollection remains because many are still not paying the correct taxes.

“That is why for me I don’t think that she should stay. Let’s give other people a chance because there are others who are capable of serving the agency honestly and orderly,” Poe said.

JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA and JOEL M. SY EGCO

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