ANGELES CITY, March 12, 2004
(STAR) By Ding Cervantes - Koalisyon ng Katapatan at Karanasan para sa Kinabukasan (K-4) vice-presidential candidate Sen. Noli de Castro wants to be secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

De Castro added that he will seek the same post concurrent with the vice-presidency if he becomes vice president under Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino (KNP) standard-bearer Fernando Poe Jr.

"What I want has always been simple and it has always revolved around public service," De Castro said. "As a broadcaster, my life has always revolved around public service and probably will always do so until I grow old and die."

De Castro was reacting to a statement by President Arroyo at a forum with the business sector at the Clark Special Economic Zone (CSEZ) the other day, when she said she would like him to act as her bridge to the Filipino masses if she wins the presidency in the coming elections.

The President said, "it is good that (De Castro) is here as my vice president. His job will be to bring the government closer to the people and bring the people closer to the government."

She said that most of the country’s 80 million population "want the attention of their president, but not all are able to reach out."

"As a mediaman, I have to be a communicator," De Castro said. "There are government programs which people are not aware of. There is a lack of information dissemination."

He said he would be able to bridge this communication gap between the Palace and the people if he is appointed social welfare secretary. He is now the chairman of the Senate committee on social services and rural development.

"I will devote myself to public service," he said. "I really want to help. I hope President Arroyo wins, because I’ve seen her work and I hope she would also build up in me such work ethics." De Castro added that he is also willing to tackle diplomatic assignments.

De Castro, who has consistently topped surveys on the vice-presidential race, said he will also seek the post of DSWD secretary should Poe win the presidency.

"I will do my best to convince (Poe) to give me a position that will make me an active vice president," De Castro said, in the event that he wins the vice presidency under a Poe administration. "If he doesn’t do that, there is nothing I can do."

De Castro also rebutted criticisms that he did nothing during his term as senator, saying his critics "do not research before they criticize. They should have researched the Senate library first."

He said he has filed 140 bills, with around nine passed into law. As chairman of the Senate committee on tourism, De Castro said he fought hard for the passage of the bill that founded the "Kabuhayan sa Balikbayan" program, which now benefits some 6.5 million Filipinos.

As chairman of the Senate committee on social services and rural development, he said he also batted for the passage of expanded benefits for senior citizens under the Magna Carta for senior citizens.

Despite his wide lead over Poe’s running mate Sen. Loren Legarda, De Castro said he does not feel overconfident, adding that he will "continue to campaign as I did when I ran for senator," despite very favorable surveys.

"I have been the No. 1 broadcaster on both radio and television and my three programs — one on radio and two on television — were all No. 1," De Castro said. "My credibility as a broadcaster on and off the air has been known by people who otherwise would have hit back at me by not patronizing my shows."

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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