MANILA -- A son of former President Joseph Estrada said the appointment of Secretary Manuel "Mar" Roxas II as the new head of the Department of Interior and Local Government is "obviously" a preparation for the 2013 midterm polls.

President Benigno Aquino III on Friday announced the appointment of Roxas as the successor to the late Secretary Jesse Robredo who died in a tragic plane crash last August 18.

"Obviously, the Liberal Party is maximizing their being in power by making sure the powerful portfolios are given to party-mates," San Juan City Representative JV Ejercito said in a text message.

Ejercito is gunning for Senate seat in 2013 under United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), a coalition party of Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) of Vice President Jejomar Binay and the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) of his father former President Estrada.

"Not to undermine the capability of Secretary Roxas but I think the appointment is obviously for the strengthening of the LP's (Liberal Party) position in the coming 2013 and 2016 elections," Ejercito added.

Roxas is the president of the LP, while President Benigno Aquino III is the party's chairman.

Bayan Muna party-list Representative Teddy Casiño, the lone candidate of the Makabayan Coalition political party in the 2013 senatorial elections, also expressed apprehension on the appointment of Roxas.

"Considering his leading position in the Liberal Party and his plans to run for high office in 2016, this will definitely further politicize the position and make the DILG even more vulnerable to patronage politics and unfair machinations by the ruling party," he said.

The progressive lawmaker said Roxas may turn the DILG into the "Department of Interior and Liberal Party Governance."

A member of the ruling party, meanwhile, defended Roxas's appointment and likened his work ethic to that of the late Secretary Robredo.

House Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II said Roxas is a trusted ally of President Aquino and can be the latter's "effective bridge" to officials of local government units (LGUs).

"If we are looking for somebody who has the same mold of integrity that Secretary Robredo had, Mar Roxas would be it," he said.

Deputy Majority Leader Miro Quimbo added that Roxas's deep knowledge of the inner workings in the LGUs make him the most qualified among the other candidates mentioned.

Among the public officials who were reportedly considered for the post are Senator Panfilo Lacson, former Isabela governor Grace Padaca, Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, and Davao City Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

Quimbo further said that Roxas's political ambition for the 2016 presidential elections—if there are any—does not lessen his qualifications to the DILG post.

"Any ambition to an elective position should not be a ground or factor that lessens a person's qualification in serving the executive. If that were the case, almost all members of the executive would be disqualified. On the contrary, having an ambition will make them work harder and ensure success of their programs or else they don't get elected," he said in a text message.

Roxas, who lost to Binay in the 2010 elections, had said that he has no plans of running for president in 2016.

Roxas, meanwhile, will be replaced by another LP member, Cavite Representative Joseph Emilio Abaya, at the Department of Transportation and Communication. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)