IF I were Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, I would feel like my own team was going against me. What with my own team members deciding to get the worst kind of media mileage possible, nine months before the elections.
You did not die, right?
The last thing Roxas needed was to remind the public of that line the President threw in the face of an obviously distraught resident of Tacloban, who had declared in no uncertain terms how unsafe the streets of the city were in the days that followed Typhoon Haiyan in November 2013.
You did not die, right? The President retorted. (The New York Times, 13 Nov 2015)
This is the same President who has anointed Roxas as his Liberal Party’s presidential candidate for 2016. And you do wonder if that has been good for Roxas at all.
And it’s gotten worse. Recently the more superficial but urgent problem of Manila traffic, which Roxas himself had spun into being a “high class problem,” that “arises from prosperity” (MarRoxas.com, 12 Aug 2015 speech), became yet another reason not to vote for Roxas.
Responding to the fact of even worse traffic once the LRT commuter line extension construction begins, Transportation Secretary Jun Abaya replied: “Hindi naman siguro fatal ‘yan.” The Transportation Secretary then defined “fatal” to mean “not burdensome to the daily lives of the people” (The Manila Times, Ben Kritz, 19 Aug)
Abaya has since apologized for the retort. But to have reminded the public about the tendency at insensitivity of this Liberal Party government is certainly something that Roxas does not need.
After all, we have all these other soundbites to remember him by.
If there’s one thing Roxas would love to erase from our memories so close to the elections, it’s the disaster that was his (mis)management of the rescue and relief operations in Tacloban and Eastern Samar, post-Haiyan.
Roxas is the Interior Secretary who was interviewed by CNN International and was obviously in over his head, trying to deny what the reporter of CNN had seen with his own eyes. Roxas is the Interior Secretary who decided that precious time needed to be spent speaking to the mayor of Tacloban to turn over powers to the national government, and then when it didn’t seem like he was going to get his way, delivered these lines:
“If we cannot legalize <the turnover of authority to the national government>, you’ll be in charge, we’ll help you, and that’s it, pero bahala na kayo sa buhay niyo.” (The Manila Times, Rigoberto Tiglao, 12 Dec 2013)
Roxas courted disaster by staying in Tacloban it seems, and by taking on the Interior Secretary position. He obviously didn’t have the EQ for it, nor did he have the compassion and kindness that the position demands.
He might have been friends with Jesse Robredo, but he sure is no Jesse.
He’s more like PNoy don’t you think? And that’s a disaster in itself.
The LP as worst enemy
When you think about it, Roxas’s worst enemy here is really the Liberal Party itself. Because while he might have made mistakes all his own, his loyalty to PNoy has tainted him in the worst way possible, and makes Roxas complicit in the mistakes and mishaps of this government.
The recent decision of the Bureau of Customs (BOC) to “follow the law” and tax the Balikbayan Boxes of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) for example, makes Roxas complicit in this task that imagines every OFW guilty of tax evasion before they are even proven as such. Because that’s what this is about. There is no way of looking at a box filled with second hand clothes and appliances, or a box with brand new shoes and towels and Victoria’s Secret perfumes and lotions all bought on sale, or a box with chocolates and canned goods, and deciding that these goods were sent to the Philippines for profit.
Any Filipino who has ever received boxes like these would know that these are never enough, for the extended and over-extended sense of family that we have. “Paano kung buong barangay bibigyan ng de lata? Paano kung ang mga damit ipamimigay sa mga tao sa probinsya?” Why would you tax goods that are for giving away?
Ah, but the loser here is really Roxas. Because it reveals what kind of Liberal Party government he is representing. It’s one that is consistently insensitive and unthinking about policy and rules, and pushes its notions of what is right versus what is urgently needed or required. It’s also a government that barely listens, and one that is petty and vindictive.
Case in point: this Liberal Party government supported the call to free Senator Juan Ponce Enrile on bail based on his age and health, but refuses to acknowledge how sick GMA has become. Let’s not even begin about the political prisoners who certainly deserve the freedom given to Senator Enrile.
And then there’s just the gall, the temerity, the shamelessness of this government. In Cebu, Roxas quoted the President in his introduction for Budget Secretary Florencio Abad: “He’s the ideologue of daang matuwid like Apolinario Mabini. He also makes sure money is used in the daang matuwid way.” (Manila StandardToday, 25 Aug) Susmiyo.
This is the Budget Secretary and the architect of the Disbursement Acceleration Program, parts of which were declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. This is the Budget Secretary whose own political dynasty has been running Batanes since the 1940s, and who’s got one too many family members in this government.
Mabini must be turning in his grave.
Meanwhile, the murder of Roxas’s political ambitions continues.