Roxas takes over DILG
(2nd UPDATE) Interior Secretary Mar Roxas also says he will take a leave as Liberal Party president after taking his oath before President Benigno Aquino III

OATH-TAKING. Interior Secretary Mar Roxas takes his oath before President Benigno Aquino III. Photo by Benhur Arcayan/Gil Nartea/Malacanang Photo Bureau

MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – Interior Secretary Mar Roxas on Saturday, September 29, took his oath as secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), promising to keep the late Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo’s legacy.

Roxas took his oath before President Benigno Aquino III, and was accompanied by his wife, broadcaster Korina Sanchez, and other family members. Robredo’s widow, Leni, also attended the oath-taking, which took place after the 40th day since Robredo’s death.

In a news conference after his oath-taking, Roxas also announced that he will take a leave from his duties as president of the ruling Liberal Party. He said this will avoid conflict of interest situations whenever he, as DILG chief, would have to deal with local officials from other parties.

Iniiwasan ko anumang maaring maging conflict, nang sa ganoon magampanan ng tama ang aking trabaho,” Roxas explained. (I am avoiding any conflict, so that I can perform my functions well.)

He said the President’s marching orders, after his oath-taking, was to focus on national security.

“The President usually says, ‘The first freedom is freedom from hunger. But in the history of the world, the second freedom is freedom from fear. People come together to ensure their safety. That will be our focus,” Roxas said in Filipino.

He said that to achieve this, he will work toward strengthening local government units (LGUs), which he called the government’s frontliners.

Roxas also said he plans to continue Robredo’s openness and transparency campaign, noting that the national government pegs the annual Internal Revenue Allotment at around P300-B. He said the national government should ensure that LGUs use this money properly.

‘Big tsinelas’ to fill

For Roxas, Robredo’s performance would be a major benchmark. When Aquino named Roxas as Robredo’s replacement, Roxas remarked: “I have big shoes or big tsinelas (slippers) to fill.”

OATH-TAKING. Interior Secretary Mar Roxas chats with the widow of the late Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo. Photo by Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda

“Hindi po ako si Jesse Robredo. Kumpara sa kanya, marami po akong mga kakulangan. Subalit maasahan po na gagawin ko ang lahat sa abot ng aking makakaya upang mabigyang respeto ang legasiya ni Secretary Jesse,” Roxas said. (I am not Jesse Robredo. Compared to him, I have many shortcomings. But you can expect that I will do everything I can to honor the legacy of Secretary Jesse.)

He also said he will continue to promote Robredo’s principles.

“Transparency, accountability, people empowerment, including the ordinary people in decision-making of the local government and even the national government – these are the hallmarks of Secretary Jesse’s leadership and we will continue all these,” Roxas said in Filipino. (Watch more in the video below.)

On Thursday, September 27, Roxas visited the DILG not to begin work, but to pay tribute to Robredo. 

Kung isasaloob at isasagawa natin ang nakita natin sa kanya, magiging katulad natin siya. Magiging kabahagi ng kanyang kabayanihan, which is makatulong sa ating bansa,” he said. (If we internalize and imitate what we saw in him, we will be like him. We will be part of his national influence, which is to help the country.)

Once he begins work, Roxas will face issues such as the anti-jueteng crusade as well as the bidding anomalies that allegedly involved resigned Interior Undersecretary Rico Puno.

Recently, Aquino also assigned him to help in settling the territorial dispute between the Philippines and China, naming him a special envoy to China. After this, Roxas reported that the two countries want to “restart frayed ties.” –

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