MANILA, Philippines - Talks that the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) will be used in the coming elections will not go away unless its newly installed chief Mar Roxas will drop his presidency in the ruling political party, an analyst said.
In an interview with radio dzMM, Prospero de Vera of the University of the Philippines said Roxas should resign as president of the Liberal Party to show he is ready to take on the challenge of a new department.
Roxas was named on Friday to replace the late Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo.
De Vera said Roxas is “not just an ordinary politician, but he is the president of the LP,” which is why the speculations are “well-founded.” Add to this the fact that Roxas may also have plans for the presidential elections in 2016, he said.
In the history of the DILG, the chief was never a president of a political party, he noted.
“The 2013 elections are near. From whom will the members of the political party ask for help? Being the president of the LP, members would always reach out to him,” he said.
This alone could already raise eyebrows from the public, which expects the DILG to be fair, he said.
He added the DILG chief also has the power to reshuffle members of the Philippine National Police, a relevant unit during elections.
De Vera added that the same could be said if Roxas would bring his own men, specifically politicians, as members of his DILG family, especially after President Benigno Aquino III gave Roxas the free hand to bring his own people into the agency.
“You can’t help but think that the only reason for that is because they would want to push the LP agenda,” he said.
The analyst noted that it would be better if Roxas will just tap professional managers and career officers inside the department itself as these people would help Roxas get a better grip of the dealings in DILG.
The problem with the appointment of Roxas is that he does not have the experience and expertise in the local government and law and order, he said, pointing out that the DILG chief is expected to be an experienced local official since he or she will have to supervise more than 1,800 provinces and municipalities and more than 42,000 barangays.
“There will be a protracted learning curve. There are also fears that gains already achieved under Robredo will be all for naught,” de Vera added.
Usually, a government official would bring in his own team because he is suspect of those who are already in office.
“Thus, the [new members] will be learning all at the same time,” he noted, adding that this is already a “sickness” that has previously beset governance in the Philippines.
While de Vera is wary of Roxas’ rule, he gave his thumbs up to the appointment of Cavite Rep. Joseph Emilio Abaya who will take over Roxas’ position as Transport secretary.
“I have no questions there. [Abaya’s] background is engineering. He is also low-key, but an effective worker,” he said.