One month and seven days after resigning his post as s ecretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Manuel Roxas 2nd finally handed over his Cabinet portfolio to Western Samar Rep. Mel Senen Sarmiento.
Roxas, who will run for resident under the administration-backed Liberal Party in next year’s elections, on Friday said Sarmiento is competent to take on the post as he was a three-term mayor of Calbayog City and before that, its vice mayor.
Sarmiento was the secretary-general of the LP.
He resigned his party position after his appointment was announced by President Benigno Aquino 3rd in a media event this week.
He had served as chief of the League of Cities when he was Calbayog City mayor.
“His competence is well-established in his nearly 20 years of public service,” Roxas said in his valedictory at the DILG office in Quezon City.
He thanked Sarmiento for making the sacrifice and accepting the position despite being only on his second term in the House of Representatives.
Facing reporters for the first time as DILG chief, Sarmiento said he will not allow the agency, which oversees local government units as well as public safety bureaus such as the Philippine National Police, the Bureau of Fire Protection and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, to be used for politicking.
Malacañang, meanwhile, has junked Vice President Jejomar Binay’s proposal to remove the Philippine National Police (PNP) from the DILG’s jurisdiction.
Its deputy spokesman Abigail Valte said Binay’s suggestion was an “obvious” attack against Roxas.
“It is quite obvious that this suggestion from the Vice President is made as a not-so-veiled attack on Secretary Roxas and not really to improve governance and performance of the institution,” Valte told reporters.
Roxas lost to Binay in the 2010 vice presidential race.
They are expected to face off again in the 2016 polls with Binay leading the opposition United Nationalist Alliance.
The Vice President on Thursday proposed that the PNP should be placed under the direct control of the Office of the President, saying the DILG, headed by Roxas,can no longer perform well in fighting criminality because it is preoccupied with projects that are not within its core mandate and competency, thus neglecting to oversee the problem in keeping peace and order in the country.
But Valte said data from the anti-crime campaign of the PNP would disprove Binay’s assumptions.
“The data [on]the implementation of Oplan Lambat Sibat in NCR [National Capital Region or Metro Manila] and in other pilot areas contradict the assumptions of the Vice President. Equipment upgrades for the PNP and the BFP [Bureau of Fire Protection] happened while under the supervision of the DILG,” she added.