Aquino endorses Roxas: 'No one else but Mar'

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) —  President Benigno S. Aquino III officially endorsed Interior Secretary Manuel "Mar" Roxas II on Friday (July 31) as the Liberal Party's (LP) presidential bet in the 2016 elections.

"Sa akin pong opinyon, ang nagpakita na ng gilas at ng integridad, ang hinog at handang-handang magpatuloy ng Daang Matuwid: walang iba kundi si Mar Roxas," Aquino said during a gathering of LP members at the Club Filipino this morning (July 31).

Aquino cited Roxas' accomplishments in helping build the BPO industry, and his efforts in the Typhoon Yolanda recovery.

"Hindi niya kailangang mag-abang pa ng utos upang masigurong natutugunan ang dapat tugunan... Sa kabila ng mga nagawa ni Mar, sa kabila ng kanyang sakripisyo, para bang may industriya talagang nakatutok sa paghatak sa kanya pababa," the president added.

Ang sa akin po: Ang mga magagandang nagawa ay totoong nangyari, maski hindi ibandera ito. At sa pagpili natin, ako nga po, tulad ninyo, hindi ko na kinokonsidera ang mga klarong epal, at taliwas sa tuwid na landas.

During his last State of the Nation Address (SONA), Aquino said that next year's elections will serve as a referendum of his anti-corruption and good governance policies, and that his term was just the beginning for the "Daang Matuwid": "Simula pa lang ng ginhawang bunga ng kalayaan mula sa katiwalian."

In his acceptance speech, Roxas mentioned that he will continue the Aquino administration's reform and anti-corruption platform.

Buong katapatan, loob, at paninindigan kong tinatanggap ang tawag ng Daang Matuwid,” said Roxas. “Tinatanggap ko ang hamon ng ating mga boss. Itutuloy, ipaglalaban ang Daang Matuwid.”

'Tremendous risk'

However, University of the Philippines Vice-President for Public Affairs J. Prospero de Vera believes that Aquino's endorsement may carry risk for Roxas.

"He should not and must simply say that 'You should vote for me because I'm the anointed [one]', because it carries with it tremendous risk," he told CNN Philippines in an exclusive interview.

De Vera added that it is "not going to be enough" for Roxas to bank on continuity.  If anything, Roxas needs to prove "that he carries not only the achievements of the Aquino administration, but that he has something additional to offer to the Filipino people."

Looking ahead, de Vera suggests that the Liberal Party should not simplify the race in a corrupt versus non-corrupt narrative.

"Because if Grace Poe runs, an anti-corruption framework is not going to bring down the numbers of Grace Poe… Mar has to differentiate himself from Grace Poe."

LP Chairman for Political and Electoral Affairs and Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice told CNN Philippines on Thursday (July 30) that Roxas deserves to be named as the LP’s presidential bet “after sacrificing his political ambitions in 2010 and after being a loyal LP member.”

Roxas was the LP's initial bet during the previous presidential election. He dropped his bid to give way to then Senator Aquino, when strong public clamor rose for Aquino to run for presidency, after the death of former President Corazon "Cory" Aquino.