Aquino set to pick Interior Secretary as successor

Aquino set to pick Interior Secretary as successor
Interior Secretary Mar Roxas.
PHOTO: Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN

President Benigno Aquino III is poised to formally anoint Interior Secretary Mar Roxas as his chosen successor on Friday at the historic Club Filipino in San Juan City, Western Samar Rep.

Mel Senen Sarmiento, secretary general of the ruling Liberal Party (LP), said Wednesday.

Sarmiento said in a text message that Roxas would be officially named the LP standard-bearer at 9 a.m. on Friday, coinciding with the birthday of Roxas' mother, Judy Araneta Roxas, and the feast day of St. Ignatius.

Albay Gov. Joey Salceda, an LP stalwart, also confirmed the "anointment" of Roxas.

He said he had received a telephone call from Roxas telling him that Mr. Aquino had "given the go signal," or would anoint him the party standard-bearer.

He said there was no word yet on who would be Roxas' running mate. "Of course, I am still hoping that Grace Poe will agree to be VP," he said.

But party members said no announcement would be made about Roxas' running mate or who would comprise his senatorial slate next year.

"It's going to be a simple affair, but everyone will be there, not only government officials," said Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice, LP political affairs chair.

"There will be no announcements for Vice President or the senatorial lineup," he added.

Leni Robredo

One of the names under consideration as Roxas' running mate, Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo, said she was asked by colleagues to attend the event at Club Filipino at 10 a.m.

She laughed off talk that she might be tapped by the LP to run for Vice President, saying "that seems to be beyond my reach."

"If in the [senatorial preference surveys], I'm only in the 21-22 rank, what more when [the fight] is one-on-one?" Robredo said in a phone interview.

Robredo, the widow of the late Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, whom Roxas succeeded, said her late husband had full trust in Roxas, which was why she felt she owed it to his memory to support him.

She said Roxas last talked to her in early July about the possibility of her running for the Senate.

"I told him I was open to it, but I couldn't decide at that point, because I have to make sure our candidate would win in my district, so that the gains we made there would not be lost," Robredo said.

Formal declaration

Erice said another event would be scheduled next week for the formal declaration of support of governors and congressmen for Roxas. Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said he was not aware of the schedule, but he would be there "for sure."

"[Roxas is] the most qualified person for the presidency," he said in a text message.

Belmonte said Roxas checked all the boxes in terms of "achievement, track record, qualifications, and integrity."

Sarmiento said the Friday meeting would be "to discuss important party matters."

But he added that was not in any position to discuss the specific agenda of the LP meeting, and Mr. Aquino's expected attendance.

"I can only confirm that there will be a big LP meeting on Friday. As to what it is all about and what is going to be the agenda can be best answered by the LP leadership during the meeting. The media is welcome to cover the event," Sarmiento said.

To resign from Cabinet

Salceda said Roxas would resign from the Cabinet to concentrate on his campaign and party building. Following the endorsement, Roxas would have a series of meetings with LP members, governors and civil society groups, the governor said.


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