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PNoy to endorse Mar Roxas this week, says top LP official

After lavishing praise on Interior Secretary Mar Roxas in his final State of the Nation Address on Monday, President Benigno Aquino III will anoint his Liberal Party colleague as his possible successor in 2016, a top party official has said.
Caloocan City Rep. Edgar Erice, the LP chairman for political affairs, said Aquino will officially endorse Roxas before the end of the week. 
"Hindi matatapos ang linggong ito, ia-annoint na officially si Roxas at si Secretary Roxas naman, dahil mataas ang kanyang delicadeza, ay magbibitiw sa kanyang katungkulan," Erice said in a report on GMA News' "24 Oras" on Tuesday. 
Quezon City Rep. Bolet Banal, another LP stalwart, said the SONA praise for Roxas was already a "simple, quiet endorsement." 
"Pero siguro po sa mga darating na araw ay magkakaroon ng mas pormal na pagpapahayag ang Pangulo," Banal said.
GMA News' sources in the LP said the endorsement will happen on July 31, which falls on the feast day of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the patron saint of Aquino and Roxas' alma mater Ateneo de Manila University.
The ruling party has reportedly reserved the Cory Aquino Kalayaan Hall at Club Filipino from July 29 to July 31.  
It was the same venue where, in 2009, Roxas paved the way for Aquino's presidential candidacy by agreeing to slide down to vice president in the LP ticket.
SONA praise
In his address on Monday, Aquino profusely thanked Roxas for his contributions to the administration.
"Sa patuloy nilang paninira, ang mga kritiko mo na rin ang nagpapatunay na takot sila sa angkin mong integridad, husay, at kahandaan sa trabaho. Mar, pinatutunayan mo: You can't put a good man down," Aquino said.
The President followed that up with a statement that could be construed as a message to Roxas to trust the electorate.
"Tulad ng pagtitiwala ng nanay at tatay ko, magtiwala kang alam ng taumbayan kung sino ang tunay na inuuna ang bayan, bago ang sarili," Aquino said.
After the address, Roxas expressed openness to continue "Daang Matuwid," Aquino's program of reform and good governance.
"Sakaling ipasa sa atin ng Pangulo ang bola ay hindi ko naman idi-dribble lang ito. Makakasiguro po kayo na isu-shoot ko ito. Ida-dunk ko pa ito. Pupuntos ang daang matuwid," he said. 
Possible running mates
Aside from Roxas, Aquino has met with Senators Grace Poe and Chiz Escudero in recent weeks to discuss the 2016 elections.

While Poe has not yet decided on whether to run for higher office in 2016, Escudero on Tuesday cited the perception that he was going to run for office in resigning his chairmanships of two key Senate panels, including the influential Committee on Finance.
Erice, however, said the President never considered anyone other than Roxas to be his presidential bet for 2016.
"Matagal nang sarado ang pinto eh. Siguro iyong mga kino-consider iyong mga vice presidential," he said. 
While some LP members are still hoping for a Roxas-Poe tandem in 2016, others are also pushing for Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo, the widow of former Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo, and Batangas Governor Vilma Santos for the vice presidential post.

Support PNoy's chosen one or else

In a separate interview, Erice said LP members are expected to support Aquino's chosen candidate when its process of nomination starts in September, otherwise they should resign from the party.
"Nobody can force anybody. This is politics, pero I think they have to resign from the LP kung hindi sila susunod," Erice told GMA News Online in a phone interview.
However, Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said the LP's nomination process doesn't include the endorsement of the President.

"Yung endorsement of the President is totally not part of the LP process. Yung LP process of having area assemblies, eventually, national directorate, that will happen close to October, mga September siguro," Abaya said.
"Siyempre 'yung endorsement ng pangulo, that is his. We don't process for him," he added.
Abaya, nonetheless, said there's a "good chance" that all members will support Roxas.
"Almost 100 percent 'yun ang mangyayari. Hindi natin pwede pangunahan si Pangulo pero ako from two years ago, sinabi ko I think Secretary Mar is the most qualified," Abaya said.
"'Di ba may competency, integrity, character and track record so he's in a best position. Mahalaga talaga sa 'min na mapagpatuloy ang Daang Matuwid. That is key," he added, referring to Aquino's campaign slogan of a “straight path.” —Trisha Macas and Kathrina Charmaine Alvarez/JST/NB, GMA News