Mar takes oath as new DILG chief

President Aquino administers the oath of office of new Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas at Malacañang yesterday. Looking on are Roxas’ wife Korina Sanchez, mother Judy Araneta Roxas and son Paolo, and Leni Robredo, widow of the late DILG chief Jesse Robredo.

MANILA – Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II said yesterday he wants to focus on his role in ensuring peace and order as well as strengthening local government units.

Roxas filed a leave of absence as president of the Liberal Party (LP) as he took his oath of office before President Aquino at Malacañang yesterday.

He said he wants only one “hat” to help him avoid conflict of interest in dealing with the LGUs and the police.

He said the upcoming 2013 election is also one of the reasons why he had to focus on one job only to ensure that the people would enjoy “freedom from fear” as the Philippine National Police (PNP) would now be under him.

Roxas said he spoke with the President about it and he was expecting that he would approve of it. He said the President was surprised with the idea since the Chief Executive seemed comfortable with him being head of the LP and the DILG.

He said the safety and security of the people are paramount and that despite progress and statistics showing crime incidents were down, there would always be victims needing to obtain justice and feel safe.

Roxas said under the party rules, he would no longer have much duties and responsibilities and that the executive vice president would assume “whenever there is an incapacity or vacancy in the presidency.”

Unfortunately, Roxas said the LP executive vice president was the late DILG chief Jesse Robredo.

Incoming Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya is the current LP secretary-general.

Roxas also gave assurance that he would continue Robredo’s projects, especially in promoting transparency in LGUs and the proper way of spending people’s money.

Roxas said he has not yet chosen his undersecretaries, including the replacement for Rico Puno, who resigned after a controversy related to guns purchase at the DILG.

He said he would still have to look into the issues and study the documents since he never laid a hand on them before taking oath.