If popularity surveys are to be believed, Presidential candidate Mar Roxas is not very popular among the voters. He has consistently landed on the 4th spot in most of the surveys conducted since the first popularity surveys were commissioned for these Presidential Elections. He is even behind Vice President Jejomar Binay despite the latter being subject to months of negative propaganda by members of the Liberal Party to which Roxas belongs.
Roxas’s supporters in social media are baffled as to why their candidate is unpopular. They think he is a decent guy and they think the ideas presented in his platform are great. But that is where the problem lies. A lot of people do not think Roxas is a decent guy and they don’t believe in his platforms or promises anymore especially since Roxas had been in various key positions during the current administration under President Benigno Simeon Aquino.
In other words, Roxas was already in powerful enough positions to effect change and implement some of his ideas but he failed to do so. He could have done more considering BS Aquino made an informal promise to Roxas at the start that the latter would play an important role in his Presidency, sort of like the President’s right-hand man. This was some kind of consolation prize after Roxas agreed to put aside his Presidential ambitions to give way to a more popular BS Aquino back in 2010 and especially after losing in his Vice Presidential bid. Furthermore, both Roxas and BS Aquino have a strong family heritage in the Liberal Party stretching back to the early postwar years and, therefore, are like family. Unfortunately, the bond between the two is the reason Roxas’s bid for the Presidency is failing once again.
Because Roxas cannot publicly criticize BS Aquino for his government’s failures, many see Roxas as impotent and a weakling. The voters who are tired of the current government want someone new and effective, not someone who promises to continue the same things.
Why would they vote for Roxas when he could not even improve the appalling traffic situation in major Manila roads nor provide better public transport services while he was in charge of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC)? Roxas left a sorry legacy to be inherited by his unfortunate successor, current DOTC Secretary Jun Abaya. Nonetheless, Abaya went on to run with that and oversee further deterioration of the Metro Rail Transit system under his watch. Abaya’s role in mishandling of the MRT maintenance is huge according to Philstar columnist Jarius Bondoc:
The other sleaze began in Aug. 2015 and was consummated in Jan. 2016. In utter secrecy Abaya negotiated a P4.25-billion three-year maintenance of MRT-3. Exposed in this column that he was rigging the talks for Korea’s Busan Transport Corp. and four unknown but supposedly highly capitalized Filipino principals, he brought the final price down to P3.88 billion. Nothing for the Filipino people to be thankful for that, because Busan easily can walk out of the deal, especially when sued for dummying. Despite its P350-billion capital, it owns only four percent of the joint venture, while the four dummies, with just a little over P1 billion combined, control 96 percent. The four – a condo constructor, an agricultural supplier, a general merchandiser, and a plumber – have no experience in railway. They are the newest fronts of Abaya’s favorite LP member Marlo dela Cruz, who before this had wangled P1.86 billion from MRT-3 without maintaining it. Vitangcol swears that Rapanut brokered Busan’s participation too.
It seems all these years that Roxas, then Abaya, were in charge of the MRT, they wasted their time trying to negotiate a deal for contractors who would get paid for doing hardly any maintenance on the MRT. Abaya has been lucky so far that the MRT problems have not resulted in passenger casualties specially whenever trains stop in between stations, when the doors don’t shut while the train is moving, and that time when the train derailed and jumped off the tracks. Abaya has been lucky that the commuters who wait for hours while enduring heat, humidity and sometimes monsoon rains just to get a ride on the MRT bear with the situation because the poor souls need their jobs to be able to meet their basic necessities in life. Abaya is disgraceful for taking advantage of the public’s “patience” while Roxas’s boss BS Aquino was too disconnected from reality to fire Abaya for his negligence and Roxas for laying the foundation for the MRT debacle. All of them still think they have done a great job for the public.
Similarly, why would Filipino voters vote for Roxas when his performance in his last major role as head of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) was a disgrace? His true character was unraveled during the height of super typhoon Yolanda. His arrogance was even broadcast to the international community while he was being interviewed by CNN’s foreign correspondent Andrew Stevens as mentioned in my previous article:
At one point during the interview, Roxas was arguing over the treatment of dead bodies left rotting on the roads. Stevens pointed out that every day, he sees the same decomposing bodies when he passes by the same road on the way to the city. But Roxas vehemently denied they were the same bodies, stopping short of calling Stevens a liar. The DILG Secretary showed his arrogance in that instance. Suffice to say, it is evident that it would be another colossal mistake if he becomes the next President. Korina Sanchez as the next First Lady doesn’t sit well with a lot of people either, specially since she is beginning to show signs of irrational behavior. Another CNN journalist can attest to this.
The way Roxas kept interrupting Stevens during the interview gave viewers the impression that he is not a people person. His attitude was like “I already know what you are getting at but let me correct you now…”. Likewise, his use of banal metaphors to describe their relief efforts can be interpreted as an attempt to distract from the real issue. At one point he said that the government only set aside pails of water not realizing they needed a swimming pool of water. As if that actually excuses the government’s lack of foresight.
Stevens seems to share other international media correspondents’ observations and pointed out to Roxas the apparent lack of order in distributing relief goods. While he acknowledged what Roxas was trying to say — that the government could not handle the initial response — Stevens couldn’t help but remind Roxas that it has already been a week and yet the victims of the typhoon still beg for water from him and his crew.
Stevens appeared frustrated over not getting an accurate assessment of the relief and rescue efforts from Roxas considering they were both in the disaster zone. It was as if they were both seeing the same thing – chaos, survivors begging for food and water and dead bodies lying around – except that the DILG secretary still insisted that the situation was under control.
Roxas’s recent attempt at revising the accounts as the tragedy unfolded through a comic book portraying him as a “hero” is an insult to the over 6000 people who died and countless who are still unaccounted for. The survivors know the truth and Roxas and his public relations people cannot hide it by glossing over the pain the suffering the victims are still feeling now particularly since a lot of them still live temporary bunk houses.
It’s not enough that Roxas is perceived as a “decent” guy by those close to him. He has to be a people person too. Since only those loyal to the Liberal Party are into him, he won’t make it to Malacanang. It’s not enough that he has grand plans for the Philippines. If you think about it, it’s only recently that Roxas has become vocal about his plans. He now says his vision is to build a high-speed train and put order to traffic. Some people can be forgiven for saying his vision will be like his comic book — they will remain on the drawing board.
Yes, family and friends in the business community Roxas is a part of will likely thwart the implementation of his “vision”. They will fight for the right to get awarded with contracts to supply and manage government projects. Because Roxas has to please his “friends” in the business community, negotiations alone could take the entire six years of his term. The voters are wise not to vote for Mar Roxas.
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