Written by Charlie V. Manalo Thursday, 30 August 2012 00:00
The Liberal Party (LP) won’t let go of the strategic top post at the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) in the runup to the elections next year with a key LP member in the House saying that such a prospect is dictated by political reality.
Such a reality dims the chances of Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson securing the post once his term expires next year and in turn brightens the chances of LP secretary general Ca-vite Rep. Jo-seph Emilio Abaya in the search for a replacement of the late Secretary Jesse Robredo.
House Majority Leader Mandaluyong City Rep. Neptali “Boyet” Gonzales said political reality dictates that LP holds on to the DILG post.
Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada, however, expressed hopes that President Aquino looks beyond politics in naming the successor of Robredo.
Estrada said he can only wish for Aquino to heed the call made by some of his colleagues, for the Chief Executive to look beyond his allies in the LP in choosing the new DILG secretary.
Abaya said he will be a faithful “soldier” if he asked by Aquino to assume the job as DILG secretary.
However, Abaya clarified that no “formal or informal” offer has been made to him by his party or any other group regarding the post.
“I’m wondering why my name is being floated, but the general attitude is whatever way I could help the President, anything that he’d offer or request me to do, I will (do it),” Abaya told reporters. Abaya said he believes the DILG post is crucial and should not be left for long to an official serving only in an acting capacity.
Abaya, who is on his third term at the House of Representatives, is chairman of the appropriations committee. Malacañang said Aquino will likely announce his choice for a new DILG head before he leaves for Vladivostok, Russia to attend the 20th Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Summit which starts on Sept. 7.
“As of now, there are only two true-blooded LP members who hold Cabinet posts – Secretary Butch Abad and Secretary Mar Roxas. So, it is the political reality that LP holds on to that post,” Gonzales said adding that the post of the DILG secretary plays a crucial role in the “furtherance of the administration’s programs.”
“It is important that the one who holds the DILG post enjoys the trust and confidence of the president,” Gonzales said. Asked if his position is limited only until 2013 when Lacson’s term expires and is ready to assume the post vacated by Robredo’s demise, Gonzales retorted it should be held until the end of the President’s term.
“It goes beyond 2013,” said Gonzales dousing hope for Lacson to assume the DILG post. Gonzales also expressed support for Cavite Rep. Joseph Emilio Abaya, LP secretary general, to replace Robredo.
“If he wants the post, I will support him (Abaya),” said Gonzales. The Mandaluyong solon said Abaya is a perfect fit for the DILG post describing him as a silent but effective worker like the late DILG secretary.
Aside from Abaya, also being considered to replace Robredo is Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, who currently holds the post in an acting capacity.
Aquino’s spokesman Edwin Lacierda said the President has been receiving names as suggestions for the vacant DILG post and that he will name a replacement before he leaves for Russia.
“The President’s main concern is someone who can continue to do and institute reforms. That is the main consideration,” Lacierda said.
“Secretary Robredo has done so much for the improvement of local governance…Reforms will be a continuing policy,” Lacierda added. Robredo and two others were killed in a plane crash off Masbate last Aug. 18.
Other names mentioned as a possible choice for the DILG post were former Isabela governor Grace Padaca, Manila
Mayor Alfredo Lim, Davao City Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, and Vice President Jejomar Binay. Binay said he will decline any offer for the post citing the many tasks he is currently into. The DILG has supervisory powers over local government units and the Philippine National Police.
Senator Estrada, meanwhile, publicly advised his younger brother, San Juan Rep. Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito to “exercise humility, forget vindictiveness and try to move on” after the latter was reported to have said he is against the idea of Lacson as DILG Secretary.
Lacson’s name has long been floated as incoming DILG chief, even before the untimely death of Robredo.
With Binay already begging off the post, Estrada said Lacson is the next best choice, if not the perfect choice being a former director general of the Philippine National Police (PNP) during his father’s incumbency, former Pres. Joseph Estrada.
The PNP is under the DILG.
“Maybe he has to exercise or know the real meaning of humility and forget about vindictiveness, we have to move on. The past is the past. Even if we had a misunderstanding with Lacson before, I already buried the hatchet. We have to work for the common good of the people,” the senator said when sought by reporters to comment on his brother’s statements.
“I think Lacson is the perfect choice. Being a former chief of the PNP has already a lot of experience. I think he is the perfect replacement to Robredo. Aside from Vice President, because Vice President Binay has expertise sa local government. Among all the names that are being floated to replace Robredo, I think Senator Lacson is the most qualified among them,” he said.
“First, this is not a competition and I’m not competing. I’d like to stress that it is a pragmatic approach to understand that being the party in power, the LP shall have the first crack sa appointment. So I will understand if LP gets all the appointments,” he said.
Lacson said he has yet to sit down with Aquino on the issue although he earlier said the President has sent word that he wanted to meet up with the senator.
“If there is an offer to be made I will process it very carefully and make my decision if there really is an offer,” he said. Angie M.
Rosales, Fernan J. Angeles, Efren B. Chavez http://www.tribune.net.ph/index.php/headlines /item/3580-lp-won%E2%80%99t-let-go-of-dilg-top-post