MANILA, Philippines - Newly appointed Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya vowed to continue the programs of outgoing Secretary Mar Roxas at the Department of Transportation and Communications.
"Succeeding Secretary Mar and continuing his programs are tough shoes to fill, too. Hindi rin po ako si Mar Roxas," Abaya said, in a briefing in Malacanang. Roxas has been appointed as Interior and Local Government Secretary.
The Cavite congressman said he is looking forward to working with the current DOTC teams who are planning and implementing airports, ports and other infrastructure projects.
"Continuity is the key component in achieving the reforms and change we want to accomplish. We have this rare chance to see this through," Abaya said.
Abaya thanked Aquino for his trust and confidence. He revealed he first worked with President Benigno Aquino two decades ago, when he was still a young lieutenant in the Philippine Navy.
"I've worked with the President two decades ago, though in a different capacity. I used to open doors and pull chairs for him when I was a young lieutenant in the Navy and as a former aide-de-camp of then President Cory (Aquino)," he said.
Abaya worked with PNoy in Congress, especially during the impeachment of then President Gloria Arroyo.
Abaya, who is on his third and last term at the House, is the chairman of the powerful appropriations committee and vice-chairman of the commitee on science and technology. He also authored House Bill 5727 or the sin tax bill, which will increase taxes on cigarettes, liquor and other tobacco and alcohol products.
Abaya is the great grandson of the first Philippine president Emilio Aguinaldo and the son of former congressman Plaridel Abaya.
A graduate of Philippine Science High School, Abaya initially studied engineering at the University of the Philippines and then joined the Philippine Military Academy.
He continued his studies at the US Naval Academy, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics; and at Cornell University, where he got a master's degree in electrical engineering from Cornell University.
Abaya is also a lawyer, receiving a degree from Ateneo de Manila School of Law in 2005.