Mar marginalized



Mar who? Mar Roxas, remember him? He pompously took a leave of absence—as if anybody care—as Liberal Party president in September last year to focus, according to him, on his job as DILG secretary

In terms of political visibility, he might as well have taken a vacation abroad while the May 2013 election battle raged. I’m beginning to suspect that his boss, President Aquino, believes Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa’s analysis that Mar is damaged goods they cannot trust to win the presidency in 2016. The president has to find a more viable candidate, or he’d be at the receiving end of the precedent he created–ruthlessly persecuting his predecessor.

Mar was more of a furniture in Team PNoy rallies, rarely even being given the mike.

Hardly ever any news stories mentioned him in the past several months. It is his main responsibility as DILG head and by law as chairman of the National Police Commission to ensure peaceful and orderly elections, and yet you heard practically nothing from him on this matter. It was rather PNP chief Alan Purisima who was put in the limelight and given credit for the relatively peaceful elections.

It may have been—to Mar’s credit—a matter of delicadeza. More probably campaign manager and Liberal Party leader Franklin Drilon told him to keep quiet so that Team PNoy candidates wouldn’t be accused of having the police and the DILG bureaucracy unfairly supporting them.

So it was a big blunder for Mar to have taken on the DILG post, since the job prevented him from taking a high-profile role in the election period. It was Drilon who has taken credit, deservedly or not, for “winning the elections. “

OOps, his spin-meisters recently realized that their boss has been marginalized in year’s major political battle, dropping under public radar. He couldn’t even get anybody to interview him on ABS-CBN, where wife Korina is a star broadcaster. They scrambled to have puff pieces on him in the last week, pieces that bordered on the ridiculous.

“I congratulate the nation,” an Internet news site quoted him as saying, “as it is very clear that the nation is the clear winner.” That’s the kind of platitude a President could utter, and it would be the basis for a news article simply because he is the President. It is a ridiculous quote, especially when made by somebody deludes himself that he is the President.

Roxas’ and even Aquino’s delusion over the elections was obvious when he referred to the nine senators who won under Team PNoy as “LP bets.” Were they really?

Top-notcher Grace Poe was an independent whom opposition leader, former President Estrada, openly claimed to support politically and financially. The LP was with former President Gloria Arroyo when she beat Poe’s father in 2010, remember?

The other three top-notchers in the senatorial race were Loren Legarda of the Nationalist People’s Coalition; independent Chiz Escudero; Sonny Angara of the Lakas ng Demokratikong Pilipino; Koko Pimentel of the Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino; the Nacionalista Party’s Alan Cayetano, Sonny Trillianes, and Cynthia Villar. Even with the offer of overflowing campaign funds, none of these bolted their mostly ghostly parties to join the LP. The Villars have no reason to love President Aquino. They spent nearly a billion pesos for the 2010 elections, only to be foiled by such cheap smear jobs as the Liberal Party’s “Villarroyo” campaign?

Nearly all of these people ran Team P-Noy only for convenience. After all, the LP, one way or another, could use government resources. It also had a campaign war chest filled to the brim by big business­men, something they always do for the party of the incumbent president.

And how many candidates of the Roxas’ Liberal Party win in the Senate race?

One, Bam Aquino, and he won not because of his being a Liberal, but a simulacrum of the martyred hero of democracy. The two other Liberal candi­dates, Jun Magsaysay and Jamby Madrigal, despite their name-recall, being both former senators, lost, maybe because they ran under the LP.

“Out of sight, out of mind” is a tenet in Philippine politics, especially in a period such as elections when new political stars emerge. Any opinion poll survey now asking the question who would likely be the possible presidential winner in 2016 would rank Roxas in the basement, eclipsed by any of the twelve winning senators—yes, even by Bam and Trillianes.

When did Gloria Macapagal Arroyo emerge as “presidentiable”? When she topped the 1995 senatorial elections, which catapulted her to the vice-presidency in the 1998 elections. When did Mar? In the 2004 senatorial elections, the impact of which could have been in the 2010 elections. The shelf life of a spectacular senatorial poll victory lasts only until the next elections. And in the just-concluded elections, Mar didn’t run, so in the public psyche, he got zero votes.

In one writer’s bumbling effort to extricate Mar from the black hole the recent elections threw him into, he wrote: “Mayor-elect Erap Estrada of Manila may still come to his side. Roxas served Estrada very well as the latter’s Secretary of Trade and Industry.”

Nonsense. It was Jose Pardo who became Estrada’s reliable Trade secretary when Estrada assumed office in 1998. Mar replaced Pardo in January 2000 when the latter was moved to finance. The writer obviously didn’t hear Estrada cursing Mar for abandoning him in November 2000. Mar’s move cost Estrada dearly, according to sources, since he allegedly had to give out P20 million to each Cabinet member so they won’t ape Mar’s defection.

That writer also claimed: “President Noynoy Aquino will not forget the “heroic” act of Mar Roxas in sacrificing his 2010 presidential ambition that catapulted President Aquino to the presidency and almost destroyed Mar Roxas’ political career.” I don’t have to explain how much of a joke that statement really is. The writer obviously missed the power of Philippine “necro-politics” at that time: that Cory Aquino’s death in August 2009 triggered a tsunami of condolence votes for her son.

Gratitude? From an Aquino? In Philippine politics?

Thatpro-Mar writer claimed: “And if Mar Roxas plays his cards right . . . the Filipinos may indeed be in for another great surprise or “comeback” in the 2016 presidential election. This narrative may be the “rise of the phoenix” in Philippine politics.” What a bumbling sycophant.

In his effort to prettify Roxas, he assumed as fact what I’ve spent so many words to explain: This kid is gone, and that makes a comeback necessary. This political bird is dead, and phoenixes are only for the birds.

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