CLARK FREEPORT – Despite Liberal Party (LP) stalwarts saying he remains their choice for the 2016 presidential polls, Interior and Local Governments Sec. Mar Roxas said here Tuesday he is not about to declare his presidential plans.
His speech during a forum of the League of Mayors of the Philippines (LMP) from Mindanao, however, seemed to belie political detachment as he focused on promises to deliver patrol cars and firetrucks to towns and cities all over the country.
Asked in an interview when he would announce his plans for the 2016 presidential elections, Roxas replied “I am not (declaring presidential candidacy).” “I am focused on my work, everything I am doing here has to do with disaster preparedness, national security, governance, kaya yan ang tinututukan natin ngayon,” he said.
Short of endorsing him for president, the LMP-Mindanao cluster, however, issued during their forum a “resolution of support for and encouragement on the leadership” of Roxas, citing him as “a friend and ally of local governments.”
The resolution praised Roxas as “a man of honor, integrity and unsullied reputation” while urging him “to continue upholding the cause of good governance.” It also praised Roxas as “a man of moral courage who leads by example”
and noted his “innovative mind” that allowed him to “formulate and implement government programs that address the roots of rural poverty.”
The resolution also lauded Roxas as a “leader of remarkable competence who is experienced in executive management and public administration and accepts responsibility for his actions and decisions based on righteousness.”
In his speech before Mindanao mayors, Roxas said mayors have been asking him for police patrol cars. He then announced that “More than 1,000 patrol cars will be distributed this year and another 1,000 next year.” He asserted, however, that “this is not a political promise. (There will be) no party consideration.
All towns will get police cars.” Noting that the LMP has 1,490 members, Roxas said that there would be more than enough patrol cars, as even more than 2,000 such cars are to be purchased up to next year. He said the patrol cars would be released in batches according to certain priorities. “We will coordinate with the LMP on data on criminality and age of existing vehicles. Priority will be based on these,” he added.
Roxas also announced that fire trucks would also be purchased for distribution to towns and cities. He admitted, however, “bigger problem” with providing all 1,290 towns and 144 cities with fire trucks as he cited census showing that 550 of these areas are without any fire truck.
Roxas stressed that the government also plans to construct fire stations with the arrival of the fire trucks, as well as provision of firefighting equipment and attire for the firemen. “The problem is that this year, only about 400 fire trucks can be bought,” he said, as he also revealed plans of the Bureau of Fire Protection to do a “geo mapping” of towns so that the distribution of the new fire trucks would ensure that no town would be left more than 10 kilometers from the nearest fire truck.
Roxas said, however, that more fire trucks would be purchased next year. This, even as he asked mayors for a local counterpart consisting of providing for water tanks for water source for the fire trucks during emergencies. He noted that the fire trucks would be purchased from developed countries where fire trucks were designed to be immediately connected to fire hydrants.
“The fire trucks were designed to pump enough water while the hoses are being connected to the fire hydrants,” he noted. Roxas said that since fire hydrants are rare in most parts of the country, the water tanks should provide more water during firefighting operations.
He also reminded the mayors that the Philippines Coast Guard has already been provided with some 300 aluminum boats equipped with various facilities, and that they are to be delivered soon to various coastal towns.