MANILA, Philippines - Six months before the start of the election season, President Aquino has reportedly told his perceived “anointed” successor Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II to work harder to arrest his plunging ratings in surveys.
Palace insiders revealed that Aquino, who sits as chairman of the ruling Liberal Party, gave the warning a week before the Holy Week break.
The sources didn’t say exactly what the President would do if Roxas’ ratings drop further in the next survey.
One source paraphrased Aquino as having told Roxas, “Ayusin mo nga ratings mo (Do something about your ratings).”
Aquino’s remarks, said one source, were made out of “exasperation,” considering that the President had given Roxas all the resources he needed – from funds, access to agencies, to manpower and network – even for activities not related to his job as DILG chief.
Another source confirmed the presidential warning was made during a meeting with members of the Cabinet, many of whom belonged to the so-called “Hyatt 10” or the officials who bolted the Arroyo administration in July 2006.
The source said the President reminded the DILG chief that the October filing of certificates of candidacy with the Commission on Elections was fast approaching.
In Pulse Asia’s survey in March, Vice President Jejomar Binay topped the voters’ preference among the presidential contenders in 2016 at 29 percent, followed by neophyte Sen. Grace Poe at 14 percent. Even Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte got higher ratings than Roxas at 12 percent. The DILG chief trailed badly at four percent.
Despite his plunging ratings in the aftermath of the Mamasapano tragedy, Aquino firmly believes that his endorsement power has not diminished. While he has not openly endorsed anyone, it is widely acknowledged that he would eventually name Roxas as his preferred successor come 2016. Roxas lost to Binay in the vice presidential race in 2010.
The DILG chief was in Ormoc City last Wednesday to lead the inauguration of projects funded through the Recovery After Yolanda (RAY) I program. With Roxas during the unveiling of the projects were Leyte Gov. Dominic Petilla, Mayor Edward Codilla and Vice Mayor Leo Carmelo Locsin Jr.
The projects include the rehabilitated Ormoc Superdome, the Food Park and Public Market Building A.
“In implementing RAY, we would like to make sure that help from government is deliberate, programmatic and sustained,” Roxas said in Filipino.
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano said he is giving himself until August to decide whether to run for president next year.
“You can only run for president if the people want you. I feel that people are looking for someone with a vision but they are still in the process of choosing,” Cayetano told reporters in Dagupan City when asked of his plans for 2016.
He said he would make an announcement “around June, July or August.” He said the people are likely to choose from among three to four presidential aspirants.
“If I’m included in their three or four choices, I will take a leap of faith,” he said.
He said he would also use surveys to guide him in his decision.
“You would run because you want to win. You would not run just for the sake of running. You would have to gauge people’s support,” Cayetano said.
He said his performance as an elected official of Taguig, where his wife Laarni Cayetano now serves as mayor, could be replicated in the entire country. The senator had served as councilor, vice mayor and congressman of Taguig.
Read more on The Philippine Star.