Roxas’ ‘lack of personal touch’ may backfire — analyst
A political analyst has warned that President Benigno Aquino 3rd’s endorsement of Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas 2nd as his party’s candidate for the 2016 presidential elections risks splitting his support base.
“On paper, he looks like a competent technocrat and successor,” Richard Javad Heydarian, a political science professor at De La Salle University, said. “But he lacks the popular touch.”
Heydarian gave his analysis as Aquino officially announced his choice of long-time ally Roxas on Friday for the country’s election of his successor next year, saying the Interior chief was the best person to advance anti-corruption reforms.
“We choose the one who is certain to pursue the straight and narrow path,” the President said, alluding to his hallmark anti-graft crusade that he says ushered in unprecedented economic growth in the Philippines.
“I believe that person is none other than Mar Roxas,” he told cheering members of his Liberal Party at the Club Filipino in San Juan City (Metro Manila).
Roxas is likely to run against Vice President Jejomar Binay, who is being investigated by a special prosecutor over graft allegations, and the popular Sen. Grace Poe, who had also sought Aquino’s endorsement.
According to recent pre-election presidential preference polls, Roxas trails Poe and Binay.
Poe was reportedly dead set in gunning for the presidency after recent survey results revealed that she was pulling away.
She was among the three considered by Aquino as the administration party’s standard- bearer.
Heydarian also warned that Roxas and Poe could split Aquino’s support base, giving Binay–the opposition’s bet–an edge.
Roxas was Aquino’s running mate in 2010 but lost to then outgoing Makati City Mayor Binay in the vice presidential race
LP supporters in yellow clapped and chanted “Roxas Now” as the 58-year-old grandson and namesake of the country’s last Commonwealth and first Republican president choked back tears and thanked Aquino.
“I accept the challenge,” Roxas said. “I will never stray from the straight and narrow path.”
Aquino said he interviewed three potential candidates — Roxas, Poe and Escudero — ahead of Friday’s endorsement, but in the end chose Roxas, even though he has been polling poorly.
He downplayed Roxas’ poor survey numbers.
“If something is really important, you must work hard for it, fight for it,” the Presient told an audience of senators, congressmen, mayors and campaign organizers.
Binay said he was looking forward to a rematch with Roxas, after beating him in the 2010 vice presidential elections.
“If this were boxing, we fought as lightweights, now we’re welterweights,” he told reporters.
Poe, after wishing Roxas well and pledging support for Aquino’s corruption fight, remained coy about her political ambitions (See related story).
Poe for VP
Leaders of the Liberal Party are still crossing their fingers that the President would succeed in convinving Poe to become Roxas’ running mate.
Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., vice chairman of the LP, said he personally prefers not to lose Poe.
“Mas gusto ko iyon [I prefer that],” he added referring to a Roxas-Poe tandem.
“I think the President will still try to do that. But if they’re really decided to push through with their team-up, there’s nothing we can do about it,” Belmonte said.
He was referring to Poe and Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero who have reportedly been keen on running as a tandem in 2016.
Belmonte has reportedly been backing Poe and earned the ire of Roxas’ supporters in the House of Representatives who threatened to oust him.
“Of course, it should be Mar who should have the initiative to run after them because he is the man of the hour now. He has to run his campaign and I don’t want to interfere with that. But if he asks for my help, I will help him. He already asked for my help, but there are no specifics yet,” he said.
Sen. Ralph Recto, meanwhile, said the challenge for the LP standard-bearer is to show them that “he is better than President Aquino and the other candidates.”
“People want more, not more of the same. He needs to be greater,” Recto added.
“He needs more exposure. If people will get to know him, he can endear [himself to]them,” he said.