MANILA – A Palace spokesperson refused to interpret President Benigno Aquino III's praises for Interior Secretary Manuel ''Mar'' Roxas II in his Independence Day speech.
''Let us let the president's words speak for themselves,'' deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a radio interview.
In his speech delivered at the historic town of Sta. Barbara in Iloilo, 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.
Aquino, however, stopped short of endorsing Roxas for president.
Instead, the president 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.
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."
The President is also set to meet with Senator Francis Escudero, one of Poe's closest political ally. It is uncertain, however, whether Aquino will ask Escudero to give way to a Roxas and Poe tandem.
Poe earlier said she prefers to run with Escudero in case she will pursue a higher post in the 2016 elections.
Roxas, Poe, and Escudero have yet to declare their plans for 2016.
Aquino has said the Liberal Party's main theme for the next national elections will be the continuity of the "Daang Matuwid" (straight path) governance.
Valte said the president is expected to announce LP's standard-bearer after his last State of the Nation Address (SONA) in July.
''Alam natin na ang opisyal na pag-eendorse ng pangulo ay darating pagkatapos ng kanyang huling SONA. Ngunit nag-pahiwatig na ang pangulo kung sino ang nararamdaman niyang dapat magpatuloy ng nasimulan niya nitong mag-lilimang taon,'' Valte said.
''Knowing the president, because he is undergoing consultations, the official endorsement will come at the end of July."