LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines (UPDATED) – Addressing provincial officials in this city, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte announced he would appoint Albay Governor Joey Salceda, a member of the ruling Liberal Party, as National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) chief if he is elected president.
Duterte made the announcement at the first-ever joint meeting of the Provincial Development Full Council and the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council organized by the Albay government on Friday, March 4.
Salceda told Duterte that he had 30 minutes to address the group, composed of local officials, national government agencies, and government forces posted in the region, gathered at the Oriental Hotel.
“If I’ll win the presidency, you’ll be the NEDA chief, Joey, because of your extensive experience in economic affairs. You’re fit for that post….So let’s give the economic [position] to Joey,” Duterte said in his speech.
Prior to the joint meeting, Salceda presided the first quarter Regional Development Full Council meeting at the local NEDA office, but turned over his chair to the vice chairman to welcome Duterte and his running mate, Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, upon their arrival at the Oriental Hotel.
Duterte is the second presidential candidate to set foot in Albay after LP standard-bearer Roxas held a campaign rally with other LP candidates there in February.
Although Salceda campaigned with Roxas at the Albay sortie, the governor’s accomodation of Duterte is seen as a prelude to a possible leap from the LP to another political camp, especially after the governor gave Duterte a token after his speech.
Duterte’s spokesman Peter Laviña, said in a statement that the Salceda gave Duterte a necklace adorned with a chilli pendant and an Albay passport “as a symbol of friendship.”
“To help make you win, Mayor,” Laviña quoted Salceda as telling Duterte, after handing him the gifts.
Duterte and Salceda were both members of the 11th Congress.
Speculation that Salceda would leave the administration party was sparked by his earlier statement that Roxas might lose in Albay because of the failure of the Aquino administration to build the Bicol International Airport. This was seen by local political observers as a possible “excuse” to leave the ruling party.
Though he did not endorse Duterte at the meeting, Salceda’s actions contradicted what he did less than a year ago, when he endorsed the presidential bid of then interior chief Manuel “Mar” Roxas II in a meeting with local officials attended by the latter. This was month ahead of President Benigno Aquino III’s official anointment of the LP standard-bearer.
At the time, Salceda said of Roxas: “He is my chosen presidential candidate to support in the 2016 elections. He is a man of integrity, with a clean record, and who can pursue President Aquino’s tuwid na daan (straight path) policies and programs for the country’s development.”
Salceda was a presidential economic adviser to former president now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. He was a member of the Lakas-Kampi-CMD but bolted the then ruling party in April 2010 to support the presidential bid of then senator Benigno Aquino III, his college classmate. He has been an LP member ever since. – Rappler.com
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