MANILA, Philippines—Sen. Gregorio Honasan, a member of the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), said he hoped President Aquino would appoint a “nonpartisan” secretary of the interior and local government in view of next year’s midterm elections.
Honasan on Saturday warned of the adverse political effects of having a partisan secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).
Honasan noted that the secretary of the interior had immense political influence as he or she had jurisdiction over the Philippine National Police (PNP) and administrative supervision over local government units.
“It has an enforcement component (through the PNP) and a political component (overseeing local government units). Can you imagine (the impact) if the secretary would adopt a partisan attitude in the performance of his duties, especially on the eve of the 2013 elections,” Honasan told the Inquirer.
“I don’t think that will be good for the public interest in our democracy,” he added.
Honasan, however, said he would not go so far as to advise President Aquino to appoint a person from outside the administration’s Liberal Party (LP) or from outside his circle of political allies.
He said he just wanted to emphasize that nonpartisanship should be a quality of the next interior secretary.
“I think the President knows that because we’ve seen the performance of Secretary Jesse Robredo,” Honasan said.
“I think that is… one of the reasons why (Robredo) had earned so much praise… because of his nonparisanship even if he was a Liberal Party member,” Honasan added.
Party efforts affected
Robredo died in a plane crash last week. LP leaders have indicated that his death has affected the party’s efforts to reach out to local chief executives.
Sen. Francis Pangilinan, an LP stalwart, said it was more important for the next interior secretary to “have the same vision of reforms” that Robredo had than to be a member of the same party.
“What is key is that he or she has the qualifications first and foremost regardless of party affiliations. This is certainly not the case of (appointing a member of the) LP regardless, or (getting one from) the LP, qualified or not,” Pangilinan told the Inquirer.
“It also bears noting that Robredo before he died was in the thick of things in terms of putting in place sweeping reforms in the department,” said Pangilinan.
His replacement should continue those reforms, he added.