DILG prepares for Roxas; no word yet on Puno

Natashya Gutierrez
Secretary Manuel 'Mar' Roxas has yet to meet with DILG officials and employees

CONTINUING WAIT. The Department of the Interior and Local Government waits for its new boss, Secretary Mar Roxas. Photo by Natashya Gutierrez

MANILA, Philippines – At the 10th floor of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) building, where the office of the Secretary is located, there is a large banner welcoming the new boss, Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas.

But it may take a while. Roxas, the current Transportation Secretary, is unable to assume his new post until the Commission on Appointment confirms him, which may take as long as October.

DILG spokesperson Ariel Tanangonan said that as employees wait, they are currently working on making his transition to the DILG as smooth as possible, which would include briefing Roxas on the projects Robredo left behind.

“Meanwhile, yung mga offices namin dito sa DILG are now preparing for the transition, hinahanda namin ang briefing materials,” he said. “The moment magtawag ng meeting si Secretary Roxas, ready na kami i-present sa kanya ang mga projects ni Secretary Robredo.”

Since Roxas was appointed as new Secretary, reports that DILG Undersecretary Rico Puno has been pulled out of the department have circulated.

Puno, a shooting buddy of the President, shared power over the DILG with Robredo. He was given control over the Philippine National Police, which is traditionally under the DILG Secretary’s control.

Tanangonan said he cannot confirm the reports.“I don’t have any information [on this]. “So right now we assume that he’s still here.”

As of Monday noon, Puno was reportedly still not in the building.

Transitions

President Benigno Aquino III on August 31 appointed Roxas to replace the late Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo, who died in a plane crash last August 18.

Tanangonan said Robredo’s office is still closed to secure documents he has left behind. Currently, the staff is doing an inventory of his personal belongings which they plan to pass on to the family as soon as possible.

The DILG has no urgent projects, according to Tanangonan. He said the priority of Roxas will likely be the budget for the department, which is time-sensitive given the upcoming budget hearings in Congress.

While Roxas’ appointment has been criticized by some people who feel that the administration is using the DILG post to help the Liberal Party in the 2016 elections, DILG officials welcome it.

“Like Robredo, Secretary Roxas is a reform-minded individual who is capable to carry out President Aquino’s vision of Daang Matuwid for local governments and the uniformed sector,” Tanangonan said in a statement.

He added that he has no doubt Robredo would also be happy with his replacement.

DILG employee Al Patagnan, who has worked at the department for about 20 years, told Rappler that he and his co-workers were happy with the choice. He said they have high expectations of him, citing Roxas’ time as congressman and senator. He conceded though that Roxas may lack experience in local governance.

Patagnan said he expects Roxas continue Robredo’s initiatives. – Rappler.com

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