Mar Roxas is a worse sort of politician than his boss, President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III. It was bad enough that BS Aquino ran for and won the presidency on the back of a pedigree platform. His being the son of Filipino “martyrs” Ninoy Aquino and Cory Aquino was his only pitch to Filipino voters. He neither had a platform nor the statesmanship qualities to unify Filipinos behind him and lead them to a common goal.
But Roxas, on the other hand, is a mere puppet. He fully takes his cue from President BS Aquino’s Daang Matuwid (“straight path”). But he offers nothing original, nothing fresh, and nothing specifically his own.
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The trouble with Filipinos is that they don’t expect much of their politicians — only that they be “honest”. While that sort of low-bar approach to evaluating their political options may seem to be safe, it has proven to be ineffectual. Proof of how idiotic “honesty platforms” are is in the way BS Aquino — who was elected on the basis of his prayerfulness and supposed lack of criminal record — all but proved to be otherwise. BS Aquino worked with his henchman Budget Secretary Butch Abad to illegally appropriate “unspent” budget to his pet Disbursement Acceleration Program, colluded with Kuala Lumpur to sell off a resource-rich chunk of Mindanao to Islamic terrorists, and coddled crooked cabinet secretaries and government agency heads even whilst they were found to have applied criminal neglect to the way they managed government resources and facilities.
A habit of voting for “honest” politicians is symptomatic of a society utterly bankrupt of imagination. In a sense, Mar Roxas epitomises that abject lack of imagination on a national scale. He is nothing more than BS Aquino’s “Mini Me” — like the midget minion of Doctor Evil (played by Mike Myers) in the hit cinematic franchise Austin Powers. He is politically identical to Aquino — but proportionally small and stunted in stature.
A vote for Mar Roxas will simply be a vote for the same tired old Yellow rhetoric of the Aquino-Cojuangco clan-controlled Liberal Party of the Philippines. Worse, the Roxas term will be nothing more than a direct analogue of the Aquino regime. Whilst BS Aquino spent the last six years trying to put — and keep — former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in jail, Roxas will likely spend his term as president trying to keep BS Aquino out of prison for the crimes of plunder and treason committed in his day.
Is there nothing more Filipinos can aspire for than to vote on the basis of a spurious claim to “honesty”? Surely there’s more to being a president than being “honest”. Honesty should be a presumed given, and not put forth as a virtue that differentiates candidates. All candidates should be honest. It’s supposed to be part of fundamental character.
Indeed, the reason Filipinos are suckers for Honesty Platforms is because theirs is a society where honesty is a bonus rather than a given. That’s sad. We realise that ours is a society where everyone is presumed a cheat and a crook and that the onus to prove otherwise is always top of mind in every Filipino when relating with one another.
Look no further than the premiere international airport — the ironically-named Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). Passengers now have to resort to shrinkwrapping their luggage and having their lawyers on speed dial lest they find themselves a victim of the laglag-bala (“bullet planting”) standard operating procedure there.
A vote for Mar Roxas will be a vote for another six years of this dreadful status quo — one where a culture of crime makes “honesty platforms” so ridiculously seductive to crime- and corruption-weary voters.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.