LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines – Outgoing Albay Governor Joey Salceda, a former ally of the Liberal Party’s Manuel Roxas II who switched to Senator Grace Poe in April, said he is ready to work with presumptive president Rodrigo Duterte if tapped.
“I’m willing to help the economic team of President Duterte if need be,” Salceda said late Tuesday evening, May 10, after his proclamation as Albay 2nd District Representative.
Salceda hailed Duterte’s apparent victory, saying that after Poe, the Davao City mayor had been his second choice.
“His winning is a glorious day for the countryside and in Mindanao. He is my number two choice to fulfill Bicolanos’ aspirations… to realize our dream to have Bicol International Airport, [an] expressway, and total restoration of the Bicol railway,” Salceda said.
During a visit to Albay in early March, Duterte had said that he would appoint Salceda as chief of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) if he is elected president.
“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 on March 4.
At the time, the mayor’s remarks fanned speculations that Salceda would bolt the administration party. The Albay governor did dump Roxas on April 22, but switched not to Duterte, but to Poe.
Duterte and Salceda were both members of the 11th Congress.
Also willing to help Robredo
Meanwhile, Salceda said he is also willing to help Camarines Sur 3rd District Representative Leni Robredo, who holds a very slim lead over Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr in the vice presidential race, based on the partial, unofficial count.
“I’m willing to help her if asked by her. We need direct access to Bicolandia. Leni is a voice for Bicol,” he said.
The Albay governor also defended Robredo from accusations of poll fraud. (READ: Comelec server hash codes altered, then Robredo votes surged – Marcos camp)
“The poll fraud accusation against her is nothing but a castle in the air. Leni is untainted with any controversy. [She] won in the past election battle in Camarines Sur because of dazzling and impressive support of the people,” Salceda said.
“It’s unfair for our kababayan (fellow Bicolano) and would-be vice president to be accused of cheating,” he added.
Several of Robredo’s opponents are also Bicolanos – senators Francis Escudero and Gregorio Honasan II, both from Sorsogon; Antonio Trillanes IV from Ligao City, Albay; and Alan Peter Cayetano, considered an “adopted” Bicolano because his wife, Taguig Mayor Lani Cayetano, is from Tiwi, Albay. (READ: Bicol a ‘cradle’ of VP candidates)
Escudero, Honasan, Trillanes, and Cayetano have all conceded defeat. With the nail-biting race down to Robredo and Marcos, Escudero said he hoped his fellow candidate from Bicol would win. (READ: ‘Escudero supporters switched to Robredo to prevent a Marcos win’) – Rappler.com