The impending appointment by President Noynoy Aquino of his erstwhile vice-presidential candidate and current LP president Mar Roxas to a key position in his inner Cabinet has several political implications. If the reports are true that the envisioned “Chief of Staff” position is imbued with policy formulation and coordination functions, then effectively the “Little President” hat will have to be given to Mar.
This–more than any other indication–speaks of the high level of trust and rapport between the two. Mar is in an excellent position to act as an alter ego of the president, to represent the latter in many functions, and to go around the country without the burden of daily grind of bureaucratic government.
Of the three closest Cabinet positions to the president–the Executive Secretary, head of the Presidential Management Staff, and Chief of Staff–the latter is potentially the most powerful. Its dominant role in the policy-making process will relegate the Executive Secretary to coordination of the various departments and bureaus under the Executive Department–an important work but nevertheless only an implementation level job only, just like the PMS work.
The CoS position also can potentially negate the advantage of the opposition Vice-President in having a free hand in going around the country. This early, it can only highlight the suspicion that VP Binay and Mar Roxas are once again in a collision course in the electoral race, this time as presidential aspirants.
With President Noynoy as party chairman and more LP senior officials joining the Cabinet, the Liberal Party is headed for a party-based rule–a rare event in the post-Marcos period where rainbow coalitions is the norm. To be sure, the Noynoy administration is still coalition-based, particularly in congress and in the local governments. However, the Liberal Party is bidding to be a real party in power.
Can it make it stick without reforming the entire range of political power contestation in the country? It is too early to say but the prospect is interesting.