MANILA - Budget Secretary Abad has admitted that Interior Secretary Mar Roxas is the Liberal Party's "sentimental choice" standard bearer in the 2016 presidential elections.
In an interview on ANC's "Beyond Politics," Abad said that aside from the fact that Roxas withdrew from the 2010 presidential race to give way to then-Senator Benigno Aquino III, LP considers him as someone competitive for the position.
"He is the sentimental choice of the LP right now, not just because he gave up in 2010 to give way, we see him as [someone] competent, a person of integrity, which may well be the main issue in 2016. As it was in 2010, he has quite a number of upsides going for him," Abad said.
Abad added that the only reason why Roxas will not be LP's standard bearer in 2016 is if he would not accept a nomination from President Aquino.
However, he clarified that the process of choosing candidates has not yet started for the administration party.
"The process for choosing a candidate has not started. If you recall, then-Senator Aquino had 8 months when he declared himself available to run for president. It's hard to say, especially when you're talking about presidential elections," he explained.
Asked about what he knows about Aquino's plan for a possible term extension, Abad said that the President has never explicitly said he wants to stay in office.
He said that what's important right is that the president will listen to his ''bosses.''
''I'm close to the President, I cannot speak on his behalf on this issue. He's been interviewed. He has never unequivocally said he wants terms extension. What he has always said is important to listen to what the people say,'' he said.
However, Abad explained that even if Aquino's term would not be extended, the President will still have a critical role for the 2016 elections.
''I don't think he will be a lame duck president. In terms of framing elections in 2016, in terms of nominating successor, he will be a significant player.''
Abad said the President is concerned about the continuity of the current administration's reforms.
Asked if Roxas is Aquino's bet to continue their reforms after 2016, he said: ''What [the President] said is he will endorse a candidate from LP who is concerned about the continuity of reforms.''
''The next president is in good position to reduce poverty, to further grow economy to 7 or 8 percent--elevate us to economies like Brazil. It's a critical election,'' he added. - with ANC