MANILA, Philippines - Cavite Rep. Joseph Emilio Abaya, secretary-general of the ruling Liberal Party (LP), is taking over the party’s leadership from Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II.
“Jun Abaya has been asked to serve as acting president. We don’t know yet how long he will serve in a temporary capacity,” Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II, one of the LP leaders in the House of Representatives, said yesterday.
Roxas took a leave of absence as LP president last weekend when he took his oath before President Aquino and assumed his new job as secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).
He said he would like to focus on solving the serious problems he would have to face, foremost of which is reducing criminality and dealing with wayward policemen.
He said he would also like to avoid accusations that would put political color to what he would do as DILG chief.
Roxas has vacated the position of secretary of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), and Abaya has been appointed as his replacement.
But though the Commission on Appointments has already confirmed him, the Cavite congressman is delaying his assumption of his new post by not taking his oath until the middle of this month.
He said he would like to wait for the final House approval of Aquino’s proposed P2-trillion 2013 national budget.
As appropriations committee chairman, Abaya conducted marathon hearings last month on the budget proposal, which the House approved on second reading two weeks ago before Congress went on a two-week recess for this week’s filing of certificates of candidacy.
Lawmakers are reconvening on Monday primarily to finally approve the budget.
Abaya said party leaders are expected to meet soon to pass a resolution formalizing his designation as LP acting president.
“I think there will be some sharing of burden with Secretary Butch Abad. He will be in charge of policy and reporting to the President while I’ll be in charge of day-to-day operations and the campaign (for the 2013 local and senatorial elections),” he said.
He said the actual delineation of functions will be detailed in the resolution and discussed between him and Abad.
As DOTC chief, Abaya has big problems to face. There are the light rail transit extension projects, the unresolved issue involving the international airport’s Terminal 3 and the transfer of the main airport to Clark in Angeles City. – With Paolo Romero, Rainier Allan Ronda