Liberal Party (LP) standard bearer Mar Roxas had the following to say in an interview where he was asked about what he thought about Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s reason for (finally) running for president:
Reporter: Do you agree with the reasons kung bakit gustong tumakbo ni Mayor Duterte? He was saying ayaw daw niya ng American President. (Do you agree with the reasons why Mayor Duterte wants to run? He was saying that he doesn’t want an American president.)
Mar Roxas: Well, palagay ko, without any specificity, lahat naman tayo, ayaw natin ng isang dayuhan bilang isang pangulo, diba? (Well, I think, without any specificity, we all don’t want a foreigner as president, right?)
You can see the rest of the interview in the video below. Mar was also asked about what he thinks of the Senate Electoral Tribunal’s decision regarding Grace Poe’s status of citizenship.
Mar Roxas may actually have a point this time, and one that doesn’t make him look like an idiot. The topic of the Philippines being controlled – even remotely – by any foreign entity is a topic way too sensitive and one that will be met with strong “nationalistic” responses. Filipinos value their “independence” and their “freedom” too much.
When one looks at the bigger picture, however, here’s where Mar’s answer starts to make him look bad – again.
When a couple of presidential aspirants – Mar among them – were scouting for a vice-president, they both talked to Grace Poe. At that time, the topic of her citizenship wasn’t brought up, or was an issue they were deliberately ignoring. When she decided to run as president and compete against them, it suddenly became an issue. I mean, what in the world is THAT?
Unfortunately for Mar, Grace Poe, regardless of the status of her citizenship, has been accepted by the masa as one of their own. She may be a foundling, but she is their foundling. I guess having a familiar name (or taking out the part of your name that wasn’t) and being the offspring of a famous movie actor helped.
Mar Roxas, on the other hand, has generally not been accepted by the masa. Any attempt he and his public relations team have done to make him appear “as one of them” has resulted in utter failure. To many, he comes across as insincere and fake. Even if he has the surname of a former president, his grandfather, it doesn’t carry the name-recall of names like Poe, or Aquino. And it certainly doesn’t carry the weight (or memorable association) that those two other examples do.
I said before that Mar Roxas doesn’t have to do much to derail his campaign. All he has to do is talk. The typhoon Yolanda aftermath and his comments regarding the “tanim-bala” (bullet-planting in luggage) cases at the Manila International Airport have only served to further his reputation as an out-of-touch asshole.
Ultimately, this is what Mar Roxas seemingly fails to realize – that as much as Filipinos wouldn’t want to have a foreigner (technically one) as president, they don’t want to have a president they perceive to be an asshole even more. They want a president that they have some sort of connection to; Mar Roxas has not given them that connection.
One can argue, like a friend of mine did, of course, that if Filipinos don’t like assholes for president, why did they vote Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino back in 2010?
Because of the last name. Anything that BS Aquino did during the campaign that reeked of assholery was mitigated by his last name being Aquino, and all the associations that came with it. He was perceived as not corrupt, or as the least evil, etc. When he finally got the job, though, that was when people realized the full extent of his insensitivity, callousness, and incompetence, but that is another topic entirely.
And now, Mar’s supporters are trying to convince people to look at his track record, of how he has no record of corruption, and are trying to deflect any criticism there may be about his character and the insights gleaned from his responses to interviews. Mar supposedly is the candidate who “makes sense”.
Let me just say it again: Since when did Filipinos ever vote for someone because “he/she makes sense”?
The small section of the blogosphere and social media where I’m connected is convinced that one of the ways that Mar Roxas could win is if some sort of hanky-panky occurs with the Precinct Count Optical Scanner (PCOS) machines. Another way – and one which seems to be what is happening right now – is that his handlers or those willing volunteers for him (I’m sure he will deny that he had anything to do with these at all, of course) are taking out his opponents one by one.
Binay – has been facing trial by media for allegations of corruption. Don’t be surprised if he will be facing a case from the Ombudsman soon.
Poe – is currently facing the questionable nature of her citizenship and consequently, her eligibility to run for president.
Santiago – makes you wonder: why would she partner up with a vice-presidential candidate whose name will turn many Filipino voters off and away?
Duterte – is the guy which fellow GRP writer Paul Farol has an interesting take on: that he’s being used by Mar Roxas (with all deniability of course) to go after Grace Poe, and possibly the other candidates as well.
Well, folks, that’s politics Philippine style for you. Politicians here would rather tear each other down than focus on presenting to the voters the best of themselves. This is also where people focus more on personalities than on the issues. The power of choice is supposedly in the hands of the people, but in reality the fate of the nation is in the hands of a few landed oligarchic families who can always be counted upon to put their interests first before the country’s.
The question always remains: what are Filipinos going to do differently this time?
If cheating and election violence become rampant again, and if the same type of politicians get elected again, well, they only have themselves to blame once more.
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