MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III appealed to the Commission on Appointments (CA) to immediately confirm his two partymates taking new Cabinet posts.
In a press conference on Friday, August 31, Aquino announced the appointment of Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas as the new head of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).
Aquino also confirmed that Cavite Rep Joseph Emilio “Jun” Abaya is replacing Roxas at the DOTC.
The President said Roxas and Abaya will not be able to assume their posts without confirmation from the CA.
Aquino explained that if Congress were not in session, Roxas and Abaya can take on their positions if he appoints them on an ad interim basis.
“But Congress is in session now so they cannot assume on an ad interim basis. The Constitution says the Commission on Appointments has to confirm so that is why we are asking the CA to act post-haste on the nominations of both gentlemen,” said Aquino.
The President said, “Kailangan na po natin sila upang agad na ring maka-arangkada ang mga proyekto’t inisyatiba ng kani-kanilang kagawaran, at ng buong bayan.” (We need them immediately to push forward the projects and incentives in their respective departments and in the entire nation.)
The Cabinet movement follows the death of Robredo last August 18. Robredo died in a plane crash off Masbate.
Mar eyed day after plane crash
Aquino told reporters that he thought of appointing Roxas a day after the plane crash, when Robredo’s body was not yet retrieved. He said he told Roxas about this while they were leading search operations in Masbate.
“We cannot delay running the government. We have to make sure the functions that cannot be handled are passed on to someone who can continue the good initiatives of Jesse. Mar was on top of the very short list but there were other people I considered,” Aquino said in a mix of English and Filipino.
Aquino said Roxas has his full trust, which he earned since their 2010 campaign in the Liberal Party, his acceptance of the DOTC post, and now his decision to step up and handle the DILG portfolio.
“Tama lang naman po na ang pinuno ng isa sa mga pinakamatandang partidong pulitikal sa bansa ang makikipag-usap sa mga pulitiko. Sino pa nga ba ang sasalamin sa lahat ng katangiang ito kundi ang Pangulo ng aming partido na si Kalihim Mar Roxas?” (It is just right that the leader of the oldest political party in the country is the one who will talk to politicians. Who else has all these qualities but the President of our party, Secretary Mar Roxas?)
Aquino added, “Anuman ang mangyari, alam kong itutuloy ni Mar ang mga ipinaglalaban natin, at oras na hingin nating sumabak siya sa anumang giyera, hindi niya tayo bibiguin.” (Whatever happens, I know Mar will continue the fight, and when we ask him to go to any battle, he will not fail us.)
On Abaya, Aquino said the congressman effectively defends the administration’s projects as Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. He said as secretary general of the Liberal Party, Abaya also handles sensitive and heavy responsibilities.
The President recalled that when he and Abaya were together in Congress, the latter did not back down from their campaign to impeach then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo despite the political pressure.
“Ang ganitong katangian ang kinakailangan natin sa DOTC. Alam nating kung mapupunta sa maling kamay ang liderato ng ahensyang ito, madaling pagsamantalahan ang mga proyektong napakalaki, at napakateknikal kaya madali ring itago sa publiko. Kumpiyansa tayong maipagpapatuloy ni Jun ang mga proyekto sa DOTC,” Aquino said. (This quality is what we need in DOTC. We know that if the leadership goes to the wrong hands, the big and technical projects can be easily abused and concealed from the public. I am confident Jun can continue the projects in the DOTC.
“Hindi malilihis ng landas ang ahensya, at magsisilbi pa siyang mabuting ehemplo para sa lahat ng kawani nito,” Aquino said. (The agency will not go astray and he will even serve as a good example to its employees.)
‘Common sense over politics’
Aquino issued the following marching orders for Roxas:
- Continue investigations being handled by the DILG concerning the police, jail facilities and other matters
- Improve the capacities of local government units, continue the Seal of Good Housekeeping program, financial disclosure
- Go after private armed groups, especially as the election draws near
For Abaya, here are some of Aquino’s orders:
- Continue program of upgrading airports
- Bid out NLEX-SLEX connector
Aquino was also asked if the appointments were for political expediency, with Roxas and Abaya being key leaders of the LP. The party is gearing up for the 2013 polls. Roxas is reportedly being eyed as its standard bearer in 2016.
“When you say expediency, it’s like you are just giving them a favor even if they are not qualified,” Aquino said. “It’s just common sense. I will not appoint anyone who cannot do the functions because that will just add up to my burden.” – Rappler.com