President Benigno Aquino III on Friday made a pitch for the administration's presidential candidate in 2016-but did not directly say who his choice would be.
In a speech in Iloilo City, the President said he and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas had jointly campaigned for the daang matuwid (righteous path) policy and said the country would not achieve its development goals if Filipinos strayed away from that path.
"Two years from now, we will again pick someone to carry on what we've started. I urge you not to deviate. Otherwise, if we go our separate ways, we will not achieve our collective goal," Mr. Aquino said in his speech, where he trumpeted the government's infrastructure projects and reforms in the bureaucracy.
The President did not directly name who his 2016 candidate would be.
Seated behind him on the stage was Roxas, who is widely tipped as the administration's choice for president in 2016.
With Roxas on the stage were Senate President Franklin Drilon, Iloilo Gov. Arthur Defensor Sr., congressmen and other local officials.
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said Liberal Party (LP) officials had expressed preference for Roxas as the administration's standard-bearer but stressed that the President has yet to make an anointment.
"Several Liberal Party members have expressed preference for Secretary Mar Roxas. But there is an official process that they would have to undergo to determine who will be the standard-bearer, taking into consideration the President's preference," Lacierda said by phone.
"As to who that preference will be, we have to wait for the President's announcement," he added. Lacierda could not say when the President would make the announcement.
In March this year, acting LP president, Transportation Secretary Joseph E. A. Abaya, said Roxas would carry the flag for the party in 2016.
Drilon, the LP vice chair, announced in January 2013 Roxas would be the party's standard-bearer.
In his speech, the President thanked Iloilo residents for making him and Roxas No. 1 in the 2010 presidential elections.
"Each time I come here and see the transformation that you're experiencing, I just want to say: Thank you very much," he said, drawing applause.
"From the start, your trust and support have been full. In the 2010 elections, Secretary Mar Roxas and I were No. 1," he added. Roxas lost to Vice President Jejomar Binay in 2010.