MANILA, Philippines - Cavite Rep Joseph Emilio Abaya admitted he faces challenges in his upcoming new role as Transportation Secretary.
At a flag raising ceremony at the Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) on Monday, September 3, current Transportation Secretary Mar Roxas introduced Abaya to the department employees.
Abaya cited two of the challenges he faces in the position that Roxas will be turning over to him: Roxas led the department, which is big and complex, competently, and that Abaya lacks experience in doing work with the executive branch of government.
"I have big rubber shoes to fill," Abaya said, making reference to the rugged footwear Roxas used when both visited the countryside.
Roxas and Abaya are both part of the Liberal Party, which went on provincial sorties during election campaign periods.
Roxas, who is assuming the post left behind by the late Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo, has previously said he has big "tsinelas" (slippers) to fill.
Robredo, who died in a plane crash on August 18, used slippers when he checks on his constituents after a calamity or was at the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council headquarters to respond to flood. He was noted for his "tsinelas leadership," a symbol of his simple but effective leadership style.
Abaya, former Navy officer who is finishing his last term as congressman, also acknowledged that being a newbie in the executive branch of the government is another challenge.
In a report of GMA News, Abaya admitted that he has no experience in executive work and this first assignment is a "line agency" or Cabinet position that involves several attached offices involved in air, water, and sea transportation.
He said he will likely be "OJT" or on-the-job trainee for a while as he absorbs the demands and responsibilities of his new job.
He also acknowledged that Roxas has started several projects and programs at the department and that Abaya will continue them.
Roxas thanks DOTC
Roxas, for his part, thanked the DOTC employees whom he led for the past 14 months.
He assumed the DOTC post in July 2011, after former Transportation Secretary Ping de Jesus resigned over disagreements with President Aquino on handling a case involving an attached agency's head.
Roxas cited some of his achievements as head of the DOTC, including the fast tracking of the Passenger Bill of Rights and reducing accidents in land, sea and air transportation.
One of the tasks he asked Abaya to pursue is the installation of night landing capability at key provincial airports.
Assume by October
Roxas said he will wait for the Commission on Appointment to confirm him before he formally takes over the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) post.
On criticisms that he will use his DILG post as part of preparations for the 2016 presidential post, he said does not mind these because his marching order from President Aquino is to pursue the "daang matuwid" (straight path) governance style.
Abaya, on the other hand, said he will likely assume his post in October since he needs to finish the budget process at the House.
Abaya is currently the chair of the powerful House Committee on Appropriations, which is on top of the deliberations for the national budget for 2013.
Both officials had a closed door briefing after the flag ceremony and media interviews. - Rappler.com