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Roxas: Running for presidency for the people to say
MANILA - Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas is still mum on whether he will be running for president in 2016, but he believes President Benigno Aquino III deserves a longer term.
In an exclusive interview with Lynda Jumilla on ANC's "Beyond Politics," Roxas dodged the question on whether he will likely be Aquino's anointed candidate in the next presidential elections.
Instead, he revealed that if only it were up to him, he would want Aquino to extend his term and continue his "tuwid na daan" governance.
"Kung ako lang ang tatanungin -- at ito walang pahintulot sa Pangulo ito, wala ring konsultasyon sa partido ko ito, ito ako lang ito -- dapat mas mahaba ang termino ni Pangulong PNoy kasi nakita na natin kung saan niya tayo dinala. At sino pa ba kundi siya ang pinakamabuti, pinakamahusay na makapagpatuloy nito," he said.
He said Aquino has proven himself as clean, reformist leader who has done a lot for the Filipino people.
"Hindi corrupt, malinis... Walang 'tong-pats.' Walang issue sa pagbubulsa," he said.
"Sino pa ba kundi ang Pangulo na nakapagpakita na ng kanyang sinseridad, determinasyon, at kakayahan na gabayan tayo at dalhin tayo sa magandang bukas," he added.
Roxas clarified, however, that he is aware this would require an amendment to the Constitution, which limits the president to only one 6-year term.
Some people, through the "One More Term for PNoy" page on Facebook, have been calling for the "re-election" of Aquino.
But Malacañang has distanced itself from this social media campaign, maintaining that the President is committed to serve only one term.
ON PRESIDENCY: NOT FOR ME TO SAY
According to Roxas, he still has no plans for the elections in May 2016 despite being eyed by his party-mates as the standard-bearer of the administration's Liberal Party (LP).
He said he remains focused on his job as secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).
"Hindi ko iniisip. Wala sa radar ko. May panahon para sa trabaho, may panahon naman para sa ganung mga bagay," he said.
He added that it is not for him to say if he is qualified to become the country's next President.
But he said he is ready to face whatever challenge may come.
"It's not for me to say. Merong kasabihan tayo na 'di ba regalo or mula sa tao yang posisyon na yan. At para sa akin, dun tayo naka-focus sa ating trabaho.
"Handa tayong harapin kung anuman ang hamon na darating. Pero sa ngayon, ang hamon ay maiangat mula sa kahirapan ang ating mga kababayan, tumotoo tayo sa daang matuwid, na araw-araw tumotoo tayo sa mga programa ni Pangulong PNoy," Roxas said.
'NOT BEHIND RAPS VS BINAYS'
The DILG chief also reacted to several intrigues and controversies in the past months.
The most recent is the opposition's claim that his group was behind the filing of a plunder complaint against Vice President Jejomar Binay, Binay's son Makati Mayor Junjun Binay, and other Makati officials over the allegedly overpriced Makati City Parking Building.
Roxas said he is not even aware of the details of the case.
He said the allegations against him are purely due to politics.
Roxas was Binay's rival in the vice presidential elections in 2010. He lost to Binay but he later filed an electoral protest.
"I don't know the person who filed it [plunder complaint], never talked, spoke, whatever. As I understand it, these are local Makati politics. Ganun lang yun 'di ba? Lahat na lang ng nangyayari, si Mar Roxas ang nasa likod nito."
He said this is also the case with respect to the opposition's criticisms over the DILG's program to relocate informal settlers living along Metro Manila's waterways.
The opposition says the program should be left to the housing agencies, and not to the DILG.
"Ang punto dito ganito: Ang objection ba nila, yung puna nila ay 'yung programa? Or the fact that Mar Roxas is in DILG at ako ang gumagawa nito?" he said, pointing out that the program started not under his leadership but under the late Jesse Robredo.
The DILG chief has also been slammed for his alleged slow response to the Zamboanga siege in September and the onslaught of super typhoon "Yolanda" in November last year.
Roxas pointed out that he and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin immediately flew to Zamboanga a day after the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) laid siege to the city, and they even flew to Tacloban, Leyte a day prior the super typhoon struck the country.
"How much faster can you be?" he said.
Roxas, meanwhile, said he does not think too much now about his supposed word war with Tacloban Mayor Alfred Romualdez, which was caught on video and became viral online.
He maintained that he was only being careful so that the President would not be accused of outrightly taking over the local government of Tacloban, which was worst hit by Yolanda.
He also clarified that he does not consider himself "above any rule" when he had an encounter with employees of the Wack Wack Golf and Country Club regarding an apparent confusion over the new policy involving the green fee of a guest.
'HURT BY CRITICISMS
With all the bashing he's been getting, Roxas admitted that he also feels hurt.
"We're also just human. We try and do the best we can. I console myself by saying, well, at the end of the day, you can look at every decision that I made and everything that I've done. And I can stand by it," he said.
He said he has been using the President's "Kayo ang aming boss" policy as his guide.
"At the end of the day, we ask ourselves, 'What would PNoy do? Where is the best and highest interest of the people?' And if you go by that compass, you can't go too wrong," Roxas said.