AQUINO: MAR COULD BE SITTING IN MY PLACE IN 2016 / I NEED MAR ROXAS

MANILA
, JANUARY 23, 2011 (BULLETIN) By GENALYN D. KABILING - Palace: No premature political endorsements.

President Aquino has not made any premature endorsements of politicians related to the national elections in 2016, Malacañang clarified on Friday.

Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office Secretary Ramon Carandang said the President is focused on his work and not on political bickering or horse-trading related to the 2016 polls.

Carandang made the clarification after the President reportedly endorsed the presidential bid of former Senator Mar Roxas 2016 during a recent gathering of Liberal Party stalwarts in Malacañang.

In the meeting, the President had said Roxas could be sitting in his place once his term ends in 2016. "Sana tulungan niyo ang katabi ko para sa 2016 (I hope you will help the one next to me in 2016)," he later told the LP officials and members last Wednesday night, in an apparent hint of the former senator’s supposed presidential plans. WHEN MY

But Carandang tried to downplay the President’s comments about Roxas during a news conference in the Palace.

“When sought for clarification, the President said it was too early to be making any endorsements. So I would not take that, at this point, as an explicit endorsement of Senator Roxas. It is too early. It’s only 2011,” Carandang said.

The President earlier defended the looming appointment of Roxas in his administration, saying he was not Superman and he needed all the help he can get.

Mr. Aquino said he plans to tap Roxas as one of his chief troubleshooters but not necessarily as his chief of staff. He said Roxas would help him in addressing “overlapping” problems facing the cabinet.

Carandang, meantime, said they welcome the addition of Roxas in the Aquino administration.

FROM THE INQUIRER POLITICS

Aquino: I need Mar Roxas By Christine O. Avenda Philippine Daily Inquirer First Posted 04:41:00 01/20/2011

Saying he was no Superman, President Benigno Aquino III said Wednesday he needed former Sen. Manuel “Mar” Roxas II as a chief troubleshooter and dismissed suggestions by some Catholic bishops that he drop plans to bring in his Cabinet his defeated running mate.

For the first time, the President outlined the functions that Roxas would have to deal with several months from now under his wing, but pointed out that the former senator would “not necessarily” be his chief of staff.

He said that he wanted Roxas to assist him in taking care of “overlapping” problems besetting Cabinet secretaries and even Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr. that he himself had to handle at times.

“So, identifying the problem, determining the correct solution, he will assist me in that aspect,” Mr. Aquino said, speaking to reporters at the 65th anniversary of the Liberal Party at Club Filipino in San Juan City.

Speaking in Pilipino, he said it was foolish to regard him as Superman who can handle everything alone.

“That will just unnecessarily delay something that the people have had to undergo,” he said.

Uncalled for

The President shrugged off as “uncalled for” statements by Bishops Jose Colin Bagaforo of Cotabato City and Dinualdo Gutierrez of Marbel that he should define the parameters of power that he planned to give Roxas after the yearlong ban on losing candidates joining the government.

“Well, they are assuming that he will have a lot of powers,” he said.

“At the end of the day, it is I who decides the appropriate action at least for the executive department,” he said.

Asked if such work was tantamount to Roxas being his chief of staff, Mr. Aquino said, “That is the way you’re phrasing it, but not necessarily.”

He said he had to deal with many problems that were “national in scope” but admitted that there were “limitations physically and even time-wise on how to handle all these attendant problems.”

In his remarks at the nationally televised gathering, Mr. Aquino said that two weeks ago he had been peppered with many problems from the National Food Authority, the toll fares and the new increased fares at the Light Railway Transit and Metro Railway Transit.

“So if there is somebody else who can adhere to the concept, start collating the necessary information, then that speeds up the process and lessens the burden of the people,” he said.

Expertise needed

Mr. Aquino said that he needed someone with the “necessary expertise to understand the problem, who can digest the same problems so that I will have more time in actually operationalizing the solution, rather than go in their investigation.”

He said he did not think anybody would “begrudge” him if he tapped the help of people with the “competence in these levels of problems.”

For his part, Roxas said he respected “opinions” against his impending entry in Malaca?. He said that as far as he was concerned he was answerable to the President and the people.

He reiterated his readiness to help the Chief Executive to ensure that his programs of reform would succeed, and asked people to give Mr. Aquino the chance to seek help in dealing with the burdens of the presidency.

Roxas also brushed aside suggestions that his entry in the Palace will exacerbate factional fighting there.

Asked how he intended to deal with the so-called Samar and Balay groups, he said there should be no factions in Malaca?.

“Everybody should help the President succeed. He has plans and it’s clear to him what these problems are and the solutions and actions that needed to be operationalized and these should be the ones that needed attention,” he said.

He said if infighting continued the administration would be in trouble.

During the May 2010 campaign, Roxas was said to be the head of the Balay group while the Samar group was reported to be led by Vice President Jejomar Binay and Sen. Francis Escudero. Escudero actively campaigned for Binay, former President Joseph Estrada’s running mate. Roxas lost to Binay.

Asked about apprehensions that he might end up being more powerful than the President, Roxas asked who made such a statement but reiterated he was simply out to help the Chief Executive.

Comelec chair appointment

When asked whether he influenced Mr. Aquino’s decision in appointing Sixto Brillantes Jr. as chair of the Commission on Elections, Roxas said that his conversations with the President were confidential.

But he said the President had not consulted him in the appointments he has made.

“I can confrim that I never brought up the name of Romy Macalintal. I did not suggest him as the next Comelec chair. That’s just intrigue,” Roxas said.

Roxas also said he met with Brillantes before he was appointed as Comelec chair but only to ask him questions on concerns of the Liberal Party, such as Brillantes being a lawyer for the Nationalist People’s Coalition.

He also denied he had raised the 2016 presidential election with Brillantes. He pointed out that the Comelec chair’s term will end in February 2015 or a year and half before the May 2016 election.

During the gathering at the Club Filipino in Greenhills, San Juan City, the party elected Mr. Aquino as LP chair and reelected Roxas as party president.

In his remarks to the party, the President praised Roxas, saying he “chose unity against division” when he stepped aside and allowed him to run as president in last year’s election.

EARLIER FROM PHILSTAR

Bishops: No need for Palace to appoint Mar as troubleshooter By Evelyn Macairan (The Philippine Star) Updated January 18, 2011 12:00 AM 

MANILA, Philippines - What is a “chief troubleshooter” anyway?”

Because the government position to be given to former senator Mar Roxas has no clear parameters, two Catholic bishops expressed disagreement with the creation of the position.

Cotabato Auxiliary Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo said Roxas should just be given a Cabinet position.

“I will be in favor of giving him a Cabinet position, which is something that is clear and everybody knows the parameters of his powers,” he said.

Bagaforo said President Aquino owes the public a clearer explanation of the position to be given to Roxas because it would lead to confusion among the people and create conflict in government policy.

“I do not know what a ‘troubleshooter’ means. It would be the first in the history of the Philippines that we would have a troubleshooter.

“What is that? … I think they must first clarify what are the primary functions of a troubleshooter,” he added.

During the New Year vin d’honneur in Malacañang, Aquino had announced that he might appoint Roxas as his “chief troubleshooter.”

“I will really be tapping his (Roxas) expertise in so many aspects. He might be one of my chief troubleshooters. If there’s something that needs more intense attention, I might ask him to do that if he’s willing,” he said.

Marbel Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez said there is no need to create the position for Roxas because it would be a duplication of government positions.

“What for? We already have department heads. We have so many Cabinet officials, he (Aquino) even has three spokespersons. This is just a multiplication or duplication of the position and they would just argue with one another. So there is no need,” he said.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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