President Benigno Aquino 3rd has allowed Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas 2nd, his chosen standard bearer of the Liberal Party (LP) in next year’s polls, to choose his runningmate, according to LP spokesperson and Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone.
Evardone said that LP was “extremely hopeful” that Sen. Grace Poe would consider the option of running as Roxas runningmate.
He also said that Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero was also being considered as another choice.
“Normally, it is the presidential candidate who chooses his runningmate because he has to be comfortable with his buddy. Dapat hindi siya nangangamba na sasaksakin siya sa likod,” Evardone said.
“I think we are going to give the option to Secretary Mar,” he said.
Evardone said it was possible that Roxas might ask Escudero to run with him since they were coalition partners.
Escudero endorsed Jejomar Binay against Roxas as vice-presidential bet in 2010 elections.
“Palagay ko iko-consider niya yan,” he said, adding that President Aquino wanted to preserve the administration coalition.
The LP spokesman pointed out that Escudero would bring a considerable number of votes to Secretary Mar “considering his track record as senator and congressman and a Bicolano.” Other candidates being considered are Secretary Jun Abaya and Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo.
Asked by reporters if Batangas Gov. Vilma Santos-Recto is also in the short list, Evardone said: “She is also highly qualified to run for vice-president. Her performance is outstanding also.”
President Aquino earlier met with Roxas, Poe and Escudero for a possible coalition in the 2016 election but no consensus was reached.
It is widely rumored that Poe and Escudero will run together for president and vice-president, respectively in 2016.
Roxas gave way to Aquino’s own presidential bid in 2010.
Evardone said that as early as the first quarter of 2015, the President had already told Roxas that he would endorse him in the 2016 polls.
The LP spokesman said the party was cognizant of Roxas’ rankings in pre-election surveys, which showed him losing to either Poe or Vice-President Jejomar Binay if the presidential elections were held today.
He said the party would face the challenge to capture the Class D and E voters for Roxas. “Yan ang pinakamarami talaga and most of them are in the countryside,” he said.
Evardone also said Roxas would resign as head of the Department of the Interior and Local Government out of delicadeza so he would not be accused of using his position to campaign for president.
“The last time he told us that once he decides to run, he will not stay any minute longer in his office and he will resign the following day. That is what he told us because he does not want to be accused of using his office to advance his political interests,” he said.
Malacañang on Saturday said that Roxas will resign his Cabinet post.
“Of course, that is a given. He will not stay in office so he won’t be accused of taking advantage of his position. Certainly, he will not do that,” Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said over government-run Radyo ng Bayan.
“What he is actually preparing for is the transition already to whoever will lead the DILG next,” she said.
Valte was referring to Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s call for the resignation of Roxas as Interior secretary.
Valte, however, could not confirm who will replace him. Roxas is expected to recommend names for the position.
Valte said Roxas wants to have a smooth transition, especially for the priority projects of the DILG, including the Oplan Lambat Sibat of the Philippine National Police.
Members of the opposition have already called for Roxas’ resignation of Roxas.
Responding to critics of Aquino’s choice of Roxas, Valte said, “As the President said, it only validates the integrity and the hard work of Secretary Roxas when all these people use him to prop themselves up.”
She said those groups only try to put others down instead of banking on the merits of their own candidates.
She added that the Cabinet members, most of whom were present at the endorsement of Roxas, support the President’s candidate. She said the Cabinet knows how professional Roxas is when it comes to work.
The entertainment industry will not unite behind Sen. Grace Poe, daughter of the late King of Philippine Movies Fernando Poe Jr. and veteran actress Susan Roces.
Regal Entertainment’s Lily Monteverde and talent manager Arnold Vegafria of ALV Talent Circuit showed up in Club Filipino last Friday to show their support for Roxas.
“I am here to support Mar. He is a close friend…but what it more important is his credibility. He is deserving [to be the President],” Monteverde told reporters.
“I believe in his platform of Daang Matuwid (good governance). The other day, we invited him in a small forum, and he was able to answer the questions fielded on him by the artists well,” Vegafria, who is managing around 40 talents, added.
“We are still in the planning stage because he just made his declaration to run for President, but definitely, we have plans for him,” Vegafria, who sat beside Monteverde, added.
Among Vegafria’s notable talents include: siblings Camille and John Pratts, Carla Abellana, Nikki Gil, Iya Villania, Billy Crawford and Martin del Rosario.
Albay Gov. Joey Salceda, regional chairman of the LP, said Roxas is the most qualified President.
“I believe the certainty of running and the anointment as administration candidate by PNoy will give (Roxas) a spike in ratings. I guess he would be closer to 20 percent arising from the consolidated administration forces on the ground and the focus on his qualifications as a candidate and no longer as Cabinet member,” he said.
Women’s organizations in Legazpi City led by Irene Solmirano commended Aquino’s endorsement of Roxas as they credit interior secretary is responsible for cheaper medicine and of waterworks projects in the countryside.
“What a good choice… I hope and pray that Divine Providence will guide him always and show him that self sacrifice and perseverance will be rewarded with faith and confidence by the Filipinos who will guard their sacred votes for him come 2016,” she added.