Roxas in 2016? ‘I’m ready to continue what PNoy started’

BULACAN, Philippines – Is Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II ready to run for president in 2016? 

Roxas did not give a clear answer when asked by reporters on Tuesday, May 26, but said he was “ready to face the task of continuing [what President Benigno Aquino III] started.” 

“Handa akong harapin at tanggapin itong tugon ng Pangulo na magpatuloy itong Daang Matuwid na ito para yung mga sinimulan na natin ay mapagpatuloy natin,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a potable water project inspection in Doña Remedios Trinidad town. 

(I’m ready to face and heed the President’s call to continue the Straight Path so we can continue what we started.) 

“Maganda na ang kinalalagyan natin ngayon. Hindi naman ito perfect pero malaki na ang na-advance natin, kaya alam na ng ating mga kababayan na kung dito tayo sa Daang Matuwid, mas malayo pa ang mararating natin,” Roxas added. 

(The country is now in a good place. It’s not perfect but it’s a huge advancement. Our countrymen now know that with Daang Matuwid, we will reach even greater heights.) 

Roxas is the presumptive standard-bearer of the ruling Liberal Party in the 2016 elections, although he has yet to announce his plans. Aquino has also not announced his "anointed" for the 2016 elections, who he wants to continue the “Daang Matuwid” – his administration’s tagline for its anti-corruption and transparency drive. 

The day prior, Aquino told reporters in a chance interview that Roxas was still on “top of the list” to succeed him, but added that the Liberal Party was still in the process of consolidating its 2016 plans. (READ: Aquino on 2016: Roxas is 'top of the list' but...)

Aquino said he will announce the ruling party’s presidential bet after his last State of the Nation Address in July 2015. 

Roxas said he was “thankful” for the President’s trust. “Malinaw ang kanyang sinabi at tinatanggap ko ito ng buong puso….Naniniwala ako na itong pagbibigay niya ng tiwala sa akin ay hindi lang para sa akin kundi para sa lahat sa atin na kasama niya sa mga reporma na nasimulan na natin noong 2010 at patuloy na nangyayari ngayon,” said Roxas. 

(What he said was clear and I accept this wholeheartedly. And I believe the trust he gave me isn’t just for me but for everyone who has been working with us towards the reforms that began in 2010 and continue to this day.) 

Although he’s been coy and cryptic when asked about his 2016 plans, Roxas has been in meetings with several reported presidential and vice presidential contenders. He met with neophyte Senator Grace Poe at least twice in the past months, and with Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte over the weekend. 

But no concrete plans have been announced following those meetings. 

Roxas’ presumed run for the presidency in 2016 is a long time coming. He was to seek the top post in 2010 but made way for Aquino, who topped presidential surveys following the death of his mother and EDSA Revolution icon former president Cory Aquino. 

The Interior Secretary ran as Aquino’s vice president but lost to Jejomar Binay, a long-time mayor of Makati city. 

Although allies of the Liberal Party are pushing for Roxas to be its standard-bearer in 2016, the Interior Chief has not been doing well in early presidential surveys. In contrast, Binay, despite being marred by corruption allegations, still leads the pack

Aquino on Monday also said that Binay’s status as the “man to beat” in 2016 depends on his ability to answer the allegations against him. (READ: Aquino: 'Man to beat' Binay should explain on corruption claims– Rappler.com