President Benigno S. Aquino III delivers his speech during the ceremonial signing of Republic Act No. 10667 or the Philippine Competition Act and the Amendments to the Cabotage Law at the Rizal Hall of the Malacañan Palace on Tuesday (July 21). (MNS photo)

President Benigno S. Aquino III delivers his speech during the ceremonial signing of Republic Act No. 10667 or the Philippine Competition Act and the Amendments to the Cabotage Law at the Rizal Hall of the Malacañan Palace on Tuesday (July 21). (MNS photo)

MANILA (Mabuhay) – A Liberal Party (LP) stalwart said on Tuesday that President Benigno Aquino III will officially announce the candidacy of the Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II before the week ends.

This was revealed by LP chairman for political affairs and Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice a day after Aquino’s sixth and last State of the Nation Address (Sona) where the president said that Roxas epitomized the saying “you can’t put a good man down.”

“Palagay ko hindi matatapos ang week na ito ay maiindorso po officially si Secretary Mar Roxas ng ating Pangulo,” Erice said.

(I think that the President will officially endorse (Interior) Secretary Mar Roxas before this week ends.)

“Wala namang duda na iisang puso’t diwa at direksyon ng pangulo at ng partido na wala nang ibang kwalipikado na ituloy ang mga nagawa ng administrasyong ito ay walang iba kung hindi ang kanyang co-pilot na si Secretary Mar Roxas,” Erice added.

(The President and the party are one in heart and mind that the President’s co-pilot, Secretary Mar Roxas, is the only one qualified to continue the initiatives of the administration.)

The lawmaker said that the administration party believes that Roxas has the “integrity, competence, and experience” to continue the gains of the Aquino administration.

When asked why Aquino stopped short of endorsing Roxas in his swan song to the country, Erice said that announcing Roxas’ endorsement will eclipse the true vision of the Sona which is to report on the achievements of the administration.

“Kasi Sona ‘yan eh. It’s all about the achievements of the president and his vision. So ‘yun dapat ang mahighlight at hindi ‘yung endorsement. Kasi kung may endorsement, ‘yun ang magiging highlight,” Erice said.

(It’s the Sona. It’s all about the achievements of the president and his vision. That should be the one that should be highlighted and not the endorsement.)

Meanwhile, Erice said that Senator Grace Poe is still the Liberal Party’s ideal candidate for vice president.

“Hindi naman namin ikinakaila, ang gusto talaga namin si Senator Poe as vice president. Kaya bukas po (ang alok na) ‘yan,” the lawmaker said.

(We do not deny that we want Senator Poe to be our vice president. The offer is still open (for her to be LP’s candidate for vice president).)

In his last Sona, Aquino praised Roxas for withstanding attacks hurled against him.

“To Secretary Mar Roxas: whether you are in or out of government, the enemies of the Straight Path have not stopped criticizing you. Because you count, because your words matter, they have continued to do their best to put you down. Through their constant attacks on your character, your critics themselves have proven that they are afraid of your integrity, skill, and ability to do the job. It’s only because they have nothing to boast of that they’re trying to bring you down. Mar, you are proving: You can’t put a good man down,” Aquino said.

When asked about his opinion on the President’s remarks, the interior secretary said that he will continue Aquino’s legacy.

“If the President will pass the ball to me, I will not only dribble it; I will dunk it,” Roxas told reporters in Filipino on Monday.

Earlier reports said that the LP has a reservation at the historic Club Filipino in San Juan on July 29 to 31. It is said that the administration party will officially announce Roxas’ endorsement there.

Club Filipino has witnessed the oath-taking of late President Corazon Aquino on Feb. 25, 1986 and the announcement of the tandem of President Benigno Aquino III and Roxas on September 9, 2009 as candidates of the Liberal Party for the 2010 elections. (MNS)