By Ellen Tordesillas
The battle over the position of Secretary of Interior and Local government, left vacant by the death of Secretary Jesse Robredo in a plane crash last week, intensifies between the Balay (Liberal Party-Mar Roxas) and Samar (Vice President Jejomar Binay and Executive Secretary Jojo Ochoa) factions.
We saw posted in Facebook last week a news item about Sen. Panfilo "Ping" Lacson confirming his interest in the position of DILG secretary, the effect of which was in very bad taste.
A closer look at the news item, however, showed that the date was June 2012 after President Aquino announced that two senators are being eyed for a cabinet position after their elected term expires in June 2013.
When asked if they were Lacson and Sen. Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan, Aquino replied, ""Those two in particular."
Malacanang sources said Lacson was slated for DILG and Pangilinan for the Department of Agriculture.
The attacks on Lacson come from people identified or sympathetic to the Balay group. We are not sure if the demolition job is a Balay operation or being done by their sympathizers without the officials' encouragement.
It should be recalled that it was also reported in June that Transportation and Communications Secretary Mar Roxas was opposed to Lacson in the DILG, which was denied by Roxas immediately.
At that time also, Robredo, whose appointment as DILG secretary was made only in June 2011 after almost a year as acting secretary (he was never confirmed by the Commission on Appointments ) was asked if he thought he still enjoyed the trust and confidence of the President and he said,"Yes."
It is understandable that political groups would want dominion over DILG because not only does it have supervision over the Philippine National Police but also the local government units.
The LGUs are composed of 79 provinces, 38 cities and Metro Manila. It's a potent political network.
Balay is said to be concerned that if Lacson makes good at the DILG, especially in the matter of peace and order, he would think of running again for president in 2016 and would be a stumbling block to Roxas presidential bid.
Just a thought: if Lacson makes good in the DILG, would that not be good for the country? Why would the peace and order situation in the country be held hostage by the presidential ambition of one politician?
One legitimate observation about Lacson, however, is that his rigid style of leadership may not sit well with local politicians.
Even if Lacson would not join the presidential race in 2016, he is seen as more leaning towards the Samar faction than Balay. If that's the case, Balay would be worried that the LGU network would be used for Binay instead of them using it for Roxas.
At the start of the Aquino administration, when Binay was being considered for a cabinet position, he conveyed that he was interested in the DILG. No way would the LPs allow that.
The LP is said to be pushing for Cavite (1st district) Rep. Joseph Emilio "Jun" Abaya for the DILG.