The Mar baggage

As the 2016 national elections draw closer, maneuverings and negotiations intensify as expected.

I have no doubt that President Benigno Simeon Aquino III wants to anoint Mar Roxas as the Liberal Party’s standard bearer for 2016. This decision would have been easy if Roxas is seen as a possible winner. Rightly or wrongly, however, political decisions are not made in a vacuum and in this country, winnability is a major criterion both for political groups and the electorate.

Survey results have not been kind to Roxas. All results have been heavily dominated by Senator Grace Poe and Vice President Jejomar Binay. Roxas’ numbers are no way near these front runners’ and PNoy cannot possibly ignore that.

Sadly also, it appears that the decision to choose LP’s candidate lies solely in the President’s hands whereas the vetting process should be a major function of the party. The choice would then be based on party statutes and principles and not only political exigencies. If it were up to LP, I suppose there would be no other choice but Roxas.

Roxas’ problem is mainly image. He is not popular because he is seen as elitist, incapable and weak.

I do not understand the elitist “problem”. Mar is a Roxas just like PNoy is a Cojuangco-Aquino. They are both of the elite. Yet PNoy never had the same problem. The only reason I can think of for Mar’s “crucifixion” is those photo-ops showing him doing ordinary folk’s work. People saw these as being pretentious and purely “papogi”. Unfortunately for him, people do not forget and forgive easily. Whoever thought of those gimmicks should have been fired.

Presently, people generally do not think much of Roxas’ capabilities and leadership. To be fair, the guy has sterling academic background. His academic credentials are much better than Poe’s or anyone else’s in the horizon. Academically speaking, he is the most qualified of the lot.

That he is “clean” is another big plus factor. For all his years in the public sector, he has not been implicated in any anomaly particularly involving the people’s money. He is already rich and has a family name to protect so I do not think that he is in government for the money.

If Mar did not slide down for Noynoy in 2010, I would have definitely voted for him.

However, people’s perception of him has changed drastically since 2010. And this, I must say, is mostly his own doing. He was given key and powerful positions by PNoy as head of the Department of Transportation and Communications, and now, the Department of Interior and Local Government. He enjoys PNoy’s trust and support. What else does one need to showcase one’s capabilities and leadership?

Surely, if Roxas has it, the people would have already seen it. But he failed and continues to fail in creating an impact for people to choose him.

Look at the mess we are in in the transport sector. Every day we hear people’s cries to address the worst traffic situation we have ever experienced. Studies say that we lose billions in productivity of our workforce because of traffic.

The MRT problem started years back. Yet instead of seeing improvements, the problem has worsened in more ways than one. Not only do our commuters suffer, their lives are also put in danger. The remaining running trains could conk out anytime and accidents can happen. Certainly, our people deserve better, much better than what they are made to suffer.

Roxas headed DOTC. What did he do?

Yolanda’s devastation happened with Mar at the helm of DILG. Thousands of our people died and hundreds of thousands more were left homeless. The whole country mourned. This problem was something that the country has never seen before and an acid test in leadership. Our people needed the government to act swiftly, decisively, and efficiently. This could have made Roxas.

But the contrary happened. Government action was too slow. Roxas was seen as politicking instead of delivering what was needed. In the end, a year has passed and thousands of families were still living in tents and relocation sites. In the eyes of the people, Roxas failed this test.

But he wants to be president. So PNoy should help. After all, this was the guy who “sacrificed” and gave way to him in 2010. And the president is moving.

The fact that PNoy has met with Poe TWICE is quite telling. One, he sees that the senator is a possible winner and it will be best if she remains at the very least an LP ally if not outrightly a member.

Two, maybe the President thinks that Poe can be persuaded to agree to a Roxas-Poe tandem with the former as presidential candidate. Perhaps PNoy is hoping that the latter’s popularity will help Roxas in the polls. After all, Poe as of now is party-less and will need the machinery and resources that the administration has.

Even if, for the sake of argument, Poe agrees to become Roxas’ VP candidate, I seriously doubt if her votes will go to Mar. While the senator has become quite popular, the “block” votes will still come from those who supported her father, and those that will come from the Estrada camp. At this point, I do not suppose the Estradas would support a Roxas candidacy even if Poe is the vice presidential bet. Jinggoy Estrada’s fate hangs in the balance here unless of course a secret deal can be had.

Mar Roxas has big political baggages. If he really wants the presidency, he and his party MUST address his image problems fast. He needs to prove his worth to the people and there is very little time left. I do not know even if he has enough time to do this.

Mar must clearly show capability and strong political will. Then maybe he will have a real shot at the presidency.


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