A militant group scored Malacañang for allowing Interior Secretary Manula “Mar” Roxas 2nd and other members of the Cabinet who plan to run in next year’s polls to use their positions and government funds in their “pseudo campaigns.”
“Mar Roxas and Noynoy (President Benigno) Aquino (3rd) are doing the exact same thing that GMA (Gloria Macapagal Arroyo) did in 2004. They are using their position and government resources for early campaigning. That was what happened in Cebu yesterday,” Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said in a statement.
Reyes was referring to the officials’ visit to Cebu on Monday, accompanied by other Cabinet officials who are believed to be running in next year’s senatorial race.
“It is shameless abuse of public funds or partisan political activity. Why in the world was the MMDA (Metro Manila Development Authority) chairman (Francis Tolentino) even in Cebu if he wasn’t running in 2016? None of these officials engaged in early campaigning even have the delicadeza to resign from their appointive positions,” Reyes said.
But Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. defended the Cabinet officials’ presence in Cebu, explaining that being “alter egos” of the President, it is their duty to “touch base” with the people they serve.
Besides Roxas and Tolentino, those who accompanied Aquino were Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, PhilHealth director Risa Hontiveros and Health Secretary Janet Garin.
“They are in the performance of their mandate…example is PhilHealth where the Secretary of Health is the chairman of PhilHealth. Director Hontiveros is part of the governing body. What they do is related to public education, public information. They explain the benefits and services of PhilHealth,” Coloma explained.
“They use the funds of PhilHealth and it is in accordance with the law,” he stressed.
Reyes noted that the administration’s “blatant and callous” use of government resources and people’s money to prop up its chosen presidential candidate is reminiscent of the strategy employed by Mrs. Arroyo who, in the year running up to the 2004 presidential elections, mobilized the full weight of government to promote her candidacy.
“This unapologetic abuse of power is supposedly what PNoy and his party fought against, but now they are guilty of the very same evils they once condemned,” stressed the Bayan leader.
Reyes said that “Roxas could have irrevocably resigned out of delicadeza, but it’s obvious that his resigning and Aquino’s refusal to accept it is all a show, pakitang tao lang para masabi na marangal sya kuno (just for appearances, just to impress upon us that he supposedly has integrity).”
Roxas tendered his resignation as DILG Secretary but was reportedly persuaded by the President to extend his stint in the cabinet to complete several unfinished tasks, among which are the modernization of the Philippine National Police and the relocation of informal settlers in Metro Manila.