MANILA, Philippines – It was an event attended by a president with a little over a year to go in office, a Cabinet secretary widely believed to be the ruling party’s bet in 2016, and more than 1,000 municipal mayors from all throughout the country.
But as far as League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) president Javier Mayor Sandy Javier is concerned, it’s too early to be talking about the 2016 presidential race. “Matagal pa ‘yan (That’s too far away). Let’s not talk about it. Not now, we’re still working hard in helping our constituents,” Javier told reporters on the sidelines of the LMP’s general assembly on Wednesday, April 15.
This, despite a resolution passed by the league in “support for and encouragement of the leadership and governance” of Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II. The resolution describes Roxas, president-on-leave of the ruling Liberal Party (LP), as “a man of honor, integrity and unsullied reputation whose character is above suspicion” and a “visionary, selfless, competent, motivational” leader.
Javier himself was all praises for Roxas in his speech.
Signed during the LMP Mindanao Island Cluster’s Conference on Governance in Pampanga, the resolution does not make mention of the 2016 presidential elections, nor does it explicitly endorse Roxas as president.
It does, however, call for the “support for and encouragement on the leadership and governance” of Roxas, as well as “encourage [Roxas] to continue upholding the cause of good governance and reforms.”
Javier said the resolution was passed long before it was reported that Roxas would be quitting his Cabinet post by June 2015 to prepare for his 2016 bid. Roxas himself denied any plans to resign “for now,” insisting he was focused on his job as the Interior Secretary.
“This was given a long time ago. You know we’ve had several resolutions done. Kaya naman lahat ng mayors tumutulong talaga sa kanya kung siya ay inaapi (The mayors are always willing to help Roxas when he’s being attacked),” added Javier, citing Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) as an example.
Roxas, who was one of the Cabinet Secretaries who headed post-disaster efforts in Eastern Visayas, was criticized for the slow pace of operations and for supposedly bringing in politics into relief operations.
Javier, a Liberal Party ally, said Roxas was unfairly criticized for his work in Eastern Visayas during Yolanda. Javier town was among the many areas devastated by the typhoon.
Roxas is the presumptive ruling party candidate in 2016. He was supposed to run for president in 2010, but slid down for President Benigno Aquino III. He ran and lost as vice president in 2010, under the LP banner.
He has been coy about his 2016 plans thus far, although his party mates have been vocal about the party’s plan to field him as president in the next elections.
The interior secretary’s survey numbers have not been encouraging. (READ: How do you solve a problem like Mar Roxas?)
In the most recent survey on presidential preferences for 2016, Roxas registered a dismal 4%. Leading the list of contenders is Vice President Jejomar Binay, the only candidate now who has clear plans to gun for the presidency.
“Pagdating naman ng panahon, dadating yan (That time will come). Then let’s talk. It’s too early,” said Javier of any 2016 talks. “Speculation is guesswork. Is there anything we can be proud of when we speculate? Nothing, we’re just wasting time. Let’s talk about the solidarity of the mayors,” added Javier. – Rappler.com
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