Mar not thinking of 2016
Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Mar Roxas on Friday said that the 2016 presidential elections is far from his mind despite perceptions that he has been “stealing the scene” regarding several prevalent issues.
“I’m focused on doing my job and not on intriguing and looking at 2016. There is much to be done in 2013, 14 and so on and so forth,” Roxas told ACT Teachers Party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio during the latter’s interpellation at the DILG budget hearing in the House of Representatives (HoR).
Tinio had noted that certain programs of the DILG are being politicized by some, leading the solon to think that it is because of secretary’s rumoured aspirations to become President Benigno S. Aquino III’s successor.
“For the record secretary, tatakbo ba kayong presidente sa 2016 (will you run for president in 2016)?” the lawmaker asked.
“As regards this question about 2016,” Roxas answered, “Perhaps it is more in the mind and imaginations of people who want to intrigue rather than those who are focused on doing their job.”
Sounding a bit cross, the interior and local government secretary said that everything he does or do not do is being linked to his supposed candidacy three years from now.
“We receive (Janet Lim) Napoles, (it’s about) 2016. We jail Napoles, 2016. I mean…we provide water, 2016. We don’t provide water, 2016,” said Roxas, who is on-leave president of the ruling Liberal Party (LP). Aquino serves as party chairman.
“I’ll take that answer as a ‘no’,” Tinio bantered.
In an ambush interview by House reporters following a break in the hearing, Roxas said that 2016 “wasn’t on his mind” and that the only way to successfully fulfil his current role as DILG chief is to “banish thoughts of his political future”.
Roxas had lost a close race for the vice presidency against United National Alliance (UNA) head Jejomar Binay in 2010. He has since been President Aquino’s “favourite” cabinet member, and has been quite visible in big news from the Serenda blast to the Napoles-pork barrel scam saga.
In an earlier interpellation, Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco, UNA’s mouthpiece during the May 2013 elections, grilled Roxas as to why the DILG is overstepping on the projects of other government agencies.
Tiango pointed to the DILG’s housing program for informal settler families and provision of potable water supply.
“Napakagandang programa po, wala po tayong tutol sa programa. Kaya lang ang tanong ay sino po ang tamang ahensiya na magpapatupad nito (There are good programs, we don’t oppose them. But the question is, which agency should rightfully implement it).”
In particular, he said Presidential Decree 757 states that the National Housing Authority (NHA) should be in charge of housing projects, not the DILG. “It has not yet been repealed by any republic act. NHA still has the authority,” Tiangco said.
Roxas, for his part, said that his agency draws its mandate from the president “who has direct supervision and control over all agencies of the government, and in that respect, may assign such tasks, programs and projects to any department at he deems fit.”
“And it is in that context that these programs and projects are assigned to the DILG,” he said.
Binay, Roxas’ 2010 conqueror, has made no bones about one day running for the presidency.