ILOILO (UPDATE) - President Benigno Aquino III commended Interior Secretary Mar Roxas in his Independence Day speech delivered in front of the historic Sta. Barbara Church.
Aquino said Roxas could be relied on to guarantee the success of any task.
"Gaya po ng nabanggit ko na, alam nating kapag inatas nating pamunuan ng isang Mar Roxas ang isang proyekto o programa, asahan mong magtatagumpay po ito," Aquino said.
Aquino mentioned Roxas when he spoke of the secretary's role in pushing for the creation of the Negros Island Region and went on to describe him as a "real son of Panay island."
The president said the initiative would pave the way for the faster allocation of resources of delivery of services.
But Aquino stopped short of endorsing Roxas for president. Instead, Aquino placed his trust in voters to choose the "right leader," his usual reply whenever he is asked how his policies would be continued beyond his term.
"Ang tugon ko: Taumbayan ang bahala; taumbayan ang magpapatuloy ng pagbabagong sila mismo ang gumawa. Alam nila kung ano ang tama, at kung ano ang mali. Tiwala akong pipiliin nilang muli ang nararapat na pinuno, lalo pa't nakikita nila ang resulta ng ating mabuting pamamahala," he said.
Roxas, the president on-leave of the ruling Liberal Party, was earlier cited by the president as his top choice to succeed him.
Several stalwarts of the administration party are also rooting for him.
However, Roxas' lower ratings in pre-election surveys have left some of his party-mates considering tapping Senator Grace Poe to carry the party's banner in 2016.
Even President Aquino continues to hold dialogues with Poe regarding the 2016 polls. In their last meeting, Aquino told Poe to ''be ready."
Both Roxas and Poe have yet to declare their plans for 2016.
Aquino said the Liberal Party's main theme for the next national elections will be the continuity of the "Daang Matuwid" (straight path) governance.
RIGHT OVER WRONG
Choosing right over wrong became the central message of Aquino's speech as he honored the role of revolutionaries from the Visayas region.
He said that despite limitations such as the absence of technology and instant communication, revolutionaries managed to rise up and fight for the country's freedom.
"Noon pa man, klaro na sa mga Pilipinong kilalanin kung ano ang tama at mali; at ang tugon nila dito ay ang manindigan sa panig ng katwiran," he said.
Aquino said unity is key to address the country's current problems such as poverty and corruption.
Aquino led the flag raising here at past 8 in the morning and offered a wreath at the tomb of General Martin Teofilo Delgado, leader of Ejercito Libertador, who launched the campaign to liberate the whole province of Iloilo, ending in the surrender of the Spanish forces in December 1898.
The Sta. Barbara church and convent was used as main headquarters of Delgado's revolutionary forces.
It was in Sta. Barbara where the Philippine flag was first raised outside Luzon.