Mar Roxas remains LP’s top bet, Abad says

Posted on June 04, 2015

BUDGET SECRETARY Florencio B. Abad, a Liberal Party (LP) stalwart, yesterday reiterated that Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel “Mar” A. Roxas II remains the top presidential bet of the ruling party for the 2016 elections.

Mr. Abad, who was campaign manager of the Liberal Party in the 2010 elections, said Mr. Roxas, the ruling party’s president on-leave, embodies the characteristics of someone who will continue the reforms initiated in government by President Benigno S.C. Aquino III, who is LP’s current chairman.

“There is no question that he has the competence, integrity, and experience as a presidential candidate in the May 2016 elections,” Mr. Abad told a forum organized by the Economic Journalists Association of the Philippines and ING Bank on Wednesday.

“I don’t want to preempt any announcement [if Mr. Roxas will be Liberal Party’s Presidential candidate]. There’s a process of formally selecting and Secretary Roxas has to go through that but I hope eventually, formally, he’s adopted as party’s standard bearer in 2016,” the Budget chief told reporters at the sidelines of the event when pressed for details about his statement.

Last year, Senate President Franklin M. Drilon has said if Mr. Roxas makes public his desire to run for president, “the Liberal Party will support him and I assume the President will support him.”

In April, Mr. Drilon who is one of the LP’s vice-chairmen, along with House Speaker Feliciano R. Belmonte Jr., said Mr. Roxas already expressed his intent to run in the presidential race, even calling the Interior Secretary as the Liberal Party’s “presumptive candidate.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Aquino earlier disclosed that he met with Senator Grace Poe-Llamanzares to discuss the forthcoming elections but refused to divulge the details.

Late last month, Mr. Aquino said Ms. Llamanzares is one of the people he can trust to continue his reforms, admitting that the first-term senator is one of his choice candidates to run in the 2016 presidential elections.

Mr. Roxas has continuously lagged behind Ms. Poe in the surveys of presidential candidates in the past months.

Despite this, Mr. Abad said yesterday that “what’s important to impress upon the electorate is what kind of government [they] want and character of the president.”

“The issue of winability comes next to defining what sort of government and president do you have in 2016 if you really want to continue the transformation,” he said.

The Budget chief also cited the importance of the next administration to continuing the reforms and economic gains seen in the country. “It’s so central what would be the character of the next administration and the ability of this country to continue development trajectory,” he said.

In 2010, Mr. Roxas stepped aside for President Aquino as the Liberal Party’s presidential bet, following the death of the late President Corazon C. Aquino and the rising public clamour for the younger Aquino to run for president. -- Imee Charlee C. Delavin