Roxas needs identity, authenticity, not hand-me-downs

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I  watched with great interest and sympathy the anointment ceremony yesterday at the Club Filipino, where President Benigno BS Aquino 3rd formally endorsed local government secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II as the Liberal Party standard bearer in the presidential election next year.

This was must viewing for me, for I have been planning to write a column on Mar’s tortuous quest for the presidency as part of my series of columns on the politics of 2016.
I have also felt sympathy for Mar, because of the seemingly endless obstacles that he has had to contend with to secure this shot at the presidency, despite the sacrifices that he has had to make, like the subordination of his ambition to others and the hollowing of his public persona in deference to others.

Now that he has been officially endorsed by President Aquino, Roxas is free at last to campaign for the presidency, and do all within the bounds of law and reason to win office.
He can chart his own course, shape his own policy agenda, and constitute his own circle of advisers and cronies.

Politicians like Mar, who are scions of distinguished political forebears, contend with both the burden and the glory of their names. A burden because there is an implicit burden to carry on a family legacy and seek public office. A glory also because you are gifted at the starting line with an advantage of prestige, money, maybe even a political base.


Mar  Roxas’ grandfather, Manuel Roxas I, filled presidential office not just once but twice, first as the third president of the Philippine Commonwealth government, and second, as the first elected president of the third Philippine Republic under the 1935 constitution. He delivered his inaugural addresses in the same year, 1946. And Mar’s father, Sen. Gerardo Roxas, served as senator, as candidate for vice-president of the Philippines, and as president of the Liberal Party.

This background marks him out as patrician, and separates him from the masses of our countrymen. This has been the root of his oftentimes erratic and funny attempts to become populist in image and appeal.

Continuity, succession,  and hand-me-downs

The anointment yesterday was permeated by the theme of continuity and succession.
Roxas will not only run for president, he must carry on the Daang Matuwid (Straight Path) program of the Aquino administration, its policies, its slogan, perhaps even the ribbon sign which Aquino used in lieu of the Philippine flag pin.

Aquino laid it on thickly in his endorsement remarks, when he declared that Roxas was picked as standard bearer and designated successor because he considers him the one most likely to carry forward the Straight Path program. He hinted that it was because he wanted to make sure of Mar’s worthiness that the anointment process took many detours and dinners with other presidential aspirants.

This passing of the torch would make sense, if President Aquino and the administration had a coherent set of ideas, principles and programs that can be readily adopted by a new administration. But five years on, no one in government can really explain what the Straight Path really is, or what its vaunted reforms are.

The torch would not be a burden if it did not also mean that it now falls on Mar Roxas to defend President Aquino during the campaign, and to rebut public suspicion that a Roxas presidency would automatically pardon Aquino if he is charged in court.

Identity and authenticity

All this is to say that for Mar Roxas to make a credible run  for the presidency, he needs to quickly develop  (1) a clear identity as a leader with his own vision and policy agenda and (2) an authentic image that people will perceive as real, not phony.

He needs identity and authenticity, more than the hand-me-downs that President Aquino has passed on to him in exchange for the presidential endorsement.

While he needs, of course, the President’s support, because it also means access to the largesse of government, he will go nowhere unless he is his own man.

Roxas lost time and traction in his quest for the presidency because he did not turn to his strengths as a public official. He has deferred to politicians with slimmer credentials.
First of all, like Grace Poe, he topped the senatorial elections when he successfully ran for the Senate; there were no protests about 60-30-10 then.

As senator, he successfully sponsored and fought for the Affordable Medicines Act. In billing himself as Mr. Palengke, he made a campaign for lower, affordable prices for commodities synomous with his name.

Voters will want to know who Mar Roxas is before they will vote for him, let alone campaign for him.

This sense of self-identity is closely allied with the quality of authenticity, of being real.
In the Total Leadership program taught at Wharton, where Roxas studied, they list “acting with authenticity” as one of the essential qualities of leadership.

An authentic candidate and leader knows clearly his purposes and objectives. He knows his values and aspirations, and he can align them with the political objective of winning office and serving in public life.

Finally, Roxas needs to articulate a clear vision of where he wants to take our country and our people during the next six years.

A leader should have a vision for our country that is clear, attractive and attainable. The more inspiring the vision, the better. People trust leaders who create inspiring visions.
A vision, I emphasize, is not a mere slogan.

Up to a point, Aquino’s shared path seemed like a vision of the future, but then it was turned into a slogan, and  it quickly dissipated its energy.

It will be suicidal for Roxas to accept it as the vision of his own would-be presidency.

The man and the moment

The  “Roxas Na” chant has a nice ring to it because it suggests both urgency and timeliness – hinting that perhaps there is a meeting here of the man and the moment.

Roxas’ acceptance speech was bland, low-key and too conscious of the presence of
President Aquino.

I did not hear one note that said Mar experienced a sense of liberation that he could at last run for president at full speed, and that he no longer has to worry about others poaching on his territory.

He still must find his voice in the emerging campaign
It better happen soon.

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28 Comments

  1. I have doubts that Mar has the making of a good president. I noticed he did not make an impression on me, at all, way back during the Yolanda typhoon. Given that he was supposed to be DILG head, yet, I haven’t seen him making firm decisions and concrete planning as with the agencies who were supposed to have been immediately mobilized for the urgent and dire needs of the victims there. Not even, after being, interviewed by Anderson Cooper as to what took the government so long to bring food to thousands of victims. It seemed his hands were tied and was just waiting for a script on how to answer the international reporters. Even, until today, when UN are still asking for answers I have not heard him face the media about it. He will surely just carry on the pagka-manhid at pagka-sinungaling at ang bingi-bingihang style of this government…I can’t see clearly how he will take the country into the next level when he does not even know his stand on this issues. He will surely just end up relying on the dictates of those surrounding him &, God forbid- do the same thing Aquino does- give the best favors to his allies. Style nyo tra-po pa rin eh.

  2. Subject: Mar Roxas must be Independently his Own Man!

    I absolutely agree that Mar Roxas must “repackage” himself in such fashion as will show his personal heartfelt commitment and passion of sincere concern towards the poor of the poorest to endear him with them. The repackaging must sharpen his looks as presidentiable, amiable and friendly, approachable and smiling (not a stern-looking upper-class). And most importantly, Roxas must be soft-spoken, use politically correct words, appealing to the masses but firm, decisive and act with dispatch and urgency! Roxas was not so effective as DOTC and DILG Secretary probably out of fear he may overshadow Pnoy. That sentiments and rationale must now stop and set his own values and judgment separate and distinct from Aquino so that the electorate would delineate his clear personality, principles and policies as HIS alone and not Pnoy. In fact carrying Pnoy’s slogans and mantra would only drag the weight against him. Roxas must create his own distinct slogan that will stick in people’s mind as he is an independent-minded, decisive and pro-poor leader who can lead the nation to great heights and prosperity!
    Roxas foremost and first program and policy of government must be directed towards the upliftment of the economic status of the poor by way of providing government jobs to them in improving the national infrastructure,( not via the Conditional Cash Transfer Program entitlement which only encourages indolence and mendicancy), subsidizes agricultural, fisheries jobs and workers, support dispersal of labor intensive industries nationwide to alleviate urban congestions (housing, traffic and crimes); passage of labor laws banning the current practice of businesses in contractual employment that terminate and rehire job worker every 3 months instead of giving out a permanent job based on qualification and performance.
    Roxas is perceived by masses (Class D&E) as another spoiled elitist being a person born with silver spoon in his mouth from the Araneta-Roxas rich clan. Mar past personal outburst and improper curses witnessed by or relayed to media earned him as a hot-temperament with no respect to “common” people, as narrated during the Yolanda disaster and the Wack Wack Golf incidents. Roxas must return to his “Mr. Palengke” image loved by the poor vendors and reverberated to all poor sectors of the country. Mar Roxas must be decisive, courageous and act as his own man and not acting like in the shadow and the spell of Pnoy. It is understandable to cooyperate with Aquino to get his presidential endorsement for the variety of assistance from government fundings during election but not too apparently submissive amounting to SUCKING UP, pandering and idolatry that lately loses his individuality or personal firm stand and decisiveness on national issues like the Mamasapano massacre, Yolanda disaster meeting with Tacloban officials like the Romualdezes, the 44 Corpses arrival in the Airforce Airport, and his clear lack of participation in the Mamasapano meetings with PNP, Aquino, Army, and defense of Non-accountability of Aquino in the decision-making of not providing military assistance to SAF PNP massacred forces.
    Roxas must get out of Aquino’shadow and coat tails. He must not adhere to the Aquino sloganeering like “Daang Matuwid” and Yellowshirt forces/bandwagon which after all are not credible mantra of the Aquinos. Roxas must totally change his dull and dry image to one that is full of life, vibrant and lead in the national policy of upholding the welfare and interests of the poor people and not the business elite sector. Roxas must act naturally as a champion of the poor and disenfranchised and huddled masses!

  3. Subject: Mar Roxas must be Independently his Own Man!

    I absolutely agree that Mar Roxas must “repackage” himself in such fashion as will show his personal heartfelt commitment and passion of sincere concern towards the poor of the poorest to endear him with them. Roxas foremost and first program and policy of government must be directed towards the upliftment of the economic status of the poor by way of providing government jobs to them in improving the national infrastructure,( not via the Conditional Cash Transfer Program entitlement which only encourages indolence and mendicancy), subsidizes agricultural, fisheries jobs and workers, support dispersal of labor intensive industries nationwide to alleviate urban congestions (housing, traffic and crimes); passage of labor laws banning the current practice of businesses in contractual employment that terminate and rehire job worker every 3 months instead of giving out a permanent job based on qualification and performance.

    Roxas is perceived by masses (Class D&E) as another spoiled elitist being a person born with silver spoon in his mouth from the Araneta-Roxas rich clan. Mar past personal outburst and improper curses witnessed by or relayed to media earned him as a hot-temperament with no respect to “common” people, as narrated during the Yolanda disaster and the Wack Wack Golf incidents. Roxas must return to his “Mr. Palengke” image loved by the poor vendors and reverberated to all poor sectors of the country. Mar Roxas must be decisive, courageous and act as his own man and not acting like in the shadow and the spell of Pnoy. It is understandable to cooperate with Aquino to get his presidential endorsement for the variety of assistance from government fundings during election but not too apparently submissive amounting to SUCKING UP, pandering and idolatry that lately loses his individuality or personal firm stand and decisiveness on national issues like the Mamasapano massacre, Yolanda disaster meeting with Tacloban officials like the Romualdezes, the 44 Corpses arrival in the Airforce Airport, and his clear lack of participation in the Mamasapano meetings with PNP, Aquino, Army, and defense of Non-accountability of Aquino in the decision-making of not providing military assistance to SAF PNP massacred forces.
    Roxas must get out of Aquino’shadow and coat tails. He must not adhere to the Aquino sloganeering like “Daang Matuwid” and Yellowshirt forces/bandwagon which after all are not credible mantra of the Aquinos. Roxas must totally change his dull and dry image to one that is full of life, vibrant and lead in the national policy of upholding the welfare and interests of the poor people and not the business elite sector. Roxas must act naturally as a champion of the poor and disenfranchised and huddled masses!

  4. Mar is already authentic and already identified as a transparent public servant with no traces of corruption. What you want is to create a class war pretending to be concern about the plight of the poor but in reality following VP Binay’s political strategy to blind side Mar. All your articles are slanted and bias against this administration. Enjoy your weekly envelop coming from the Binays while it last .

  5. Amnata Pundit on

    What difference does it make how Mar Roxas will package himself when it is not the people but Smartmatic that will choose who the next president will be? Professional pundits who are supposed to be part of the intelligentsia fail the people big time when they buy into this false reality that the gods are creating to fool everybody instead of exposing the whole thing for what it is, that it is a mockery of the democratic process. What Mar needs is less Madison Avenue style packaging and more convincing power to make Boy Sayad endorse him to the gods behind Smartmatic. If these gods speak through the surveys of SWS and Pulse Asia, and I believe they do, then it is loud and clear what they are saying: its Grace Poe but if she is disqualified, then the Binay crime family will occupy Malacanang. What a pathetic sight Mar Roxas is, Boy Sayad is jerking him around like what Cory did to Doy Laurel and Mitra, and GMA to Gibo Teodoro and he is so helpless to do anything about it.

  6. good comment hector. ngayon ko lang nalaman na hindi pala big time investment banker itong si boy pickup. isang gofer lang pala ito. pareho lang pala sila ni poe-pet ng experience sa amerika. kaya nagtataka ako dun sa column ni boo chanco sa philstar nung isang lingo saying that a banker he talked to said that boy pickup or poe-pet would be good for the phil. i wondered and asked chanco to explain to me, am just a lowly average guy, how could a person who knew investments, being a banker, would prefer a teka teka attitude and continous love for unending feasibility studies which resulted into no projects undertaken be the darling of international bankers and so with poe-pet who i think does not even know how to interpret a balance sheet. maybe they knew his lack of capabilities thus they could go around him and so with poe-pet

  7. Modie Segovia on

    First unsolicited advise to Mar is for his image to be repackage. I suggest he drop the “Daang Matuwid” slogan. It is a very obvious lie. Also he must revert back to his original blue color and discard the too partisan yellow. He must picture himself to be a unifying figure than a dividing one as his predecessor is. For Pete’s sake, don’t drive a tricycle and carry a sack of rice. Sana makabawi ka pa pag na repack ka. Sayang ang image na pinakita mo noong nasa DTI ka pa. Ibalik mo ang image na yon. at panghuli, promise na hindi ka balakid pag ipinakulong si Pinoy!

    • Isabay na din ung katapusan ng ENDO na isa ang pamilya niya na nagpapahirap sa mga kuwalipikadong manggagawa. Wala yang endo-endo na yan sa labor code…be on your own kung gusto mong iboto ka ng nakararaming pnoy. Umalis ka sa anino ni AbNoy. BE YOUR MAN!!!

    • MY FELLOW FLIPINOS , WHY DO we have to look elsewhere to find someone who needs teachings / coacthings . Mar Roxas is lost and has NO CLEAR MISSION / VISION HOW and WHERE TO LEAD THE FILIPINO PEOPLE … ang mangyayari sa PILIPINAS ay PURO WALA at PAGKATAPOS NG 6- YEARS , ay HANGGANG BOLADAS NA FAILED daang matuwid na WALANG NANGYARI , WALANG NAPUNTAHAN ,,, WALANG PATUTUNGUHAN KAHIT KAILAN … THE THING IS THIS … BBMARCOS IS RIGHT THERE WITH A CLEAR MISSION and VISION , HUWAG NA NATIN IPAGBILI ANG boto natin
      kat bs aquino dahil pa-uulanan nya lahat ng tao ng limpak limpak na pera na matagal nya itinago para ilabas sa election time … WHAT A DEVIL president leader

  8. Bert O. Romero on

    As an afterthought, ” ROXAS NOW! ” could serve as a battle chant not for the entire presidential campaign but only for yesterday’s endorsement to signify Mar’s severance of his umbilical cord from PNoy. He should not hitch his entire presidential campaign to PNoy’s political wagon if he desires to have a chance of winning. He should make full use of his Wharton education and his DTI secretaryship to launch a program addressing elements of governance – transparency, responsibility and accountability , people empowerment, feedback mechanism, to name a few – and a separate platform to make poverty and unemployment priority issues and economic growth inclusivity understandable to the common masa. He should harness his being a former DOTC helmsman to propose programs that will address a comprehensive land, water, rail and air transport system that will alleviate the daily traffic mess especially in Metro Manila. As the current head of DILG, he should be able to cobble a strategy aimed at harnessing local government units into a seamless web of inter- cooperating machinery that attends to the challenges of peace and order, drugs, and disaster management at the forefronts of a Roxas administration.

    Mar has not been tainted by even a whiff of corruption allegation; he has impeccable education both here and abroad; he has proven competence and wide-ranging work experience and he knows what political and self- sacrifice mean. It’s not his fault he was born to a patrician and elitist social class but at least his heart is in the right place.

    It’s never too late to define who Mar Roxas is and what his message to the Filipino people is.

  9. Bert O. Romero on

    Congrats!!! You directly hit Mar’s issue on the head: The urgent and critical need for Mar to define himself or what he stands for. After thanking PNoy for finally endorsing him, Mar could have spent the rest of his speech outlining the contours, even with broad strokes yet, of his message for the 2016 presidential campaign and how to implement it once elected. Yesterday’s ” Gathering of Friends” was a missed opportunity for Mar for spending his entire speech eternally expressing his slavish gratitude to PNoy for anointing him. It’s now essential for Mar to carve out his own message defining him to show to the Filipino nation he is his own man. Five years have been long enough for him to stand beneath PNoy’s shadow and may be short for him to cast his own.

  10. Forget Poe, he should pick Trillanes for VP who will be his attack dog against Binay to provide fireworks in the campaign.

  11. If he will keep talking about the daang matuwid, Because the daang matuwid does not work. In practice, daang matuwid is ridffled with double standards and bribery towards the other 2 branches of government. If he can clearly show the way without talking about daang matuwid, I will vote for him.

  12. I will share some snapshots on Mr. Manuel Araneta Roxas:
    1. When he was about to transfer to DILG, Directors of DOTC were ecstatic. Was there a message? Definitely, there was, in the negative sense;
    2. While at DILG, even a Provincial Governor cannot access his office sans an appointment;
    3. It took 3 days of waiting before a DILG Undersecretary was able to talk to him in their “Balay” in Cubao;
    4. A simulated election at the DILG-NAPOLCOM Center along EDSA will generate a disastrous result. He might garner some votes but limited to his immediate staff (those he brought along with him);
    5. He does not have a deep understanding of the delegated mandate (LG Sector) of the
    DILG and its administrative and substantive imperatives;
    6. He has not introduced a single pioneering and strategic initiative in sync with the general supervision mandate of DILG. Play of words, yes he got lots of them;
    7. His only contribution that does not also make sense – a change in the DILG; and
    8. He does not have a personal touch for those outside of his elitist world.
    Again, these are only snapshots.

  13. apolinario mendez on

    mar fumes…bwiset na brownout…isa pa tong traffic at karag karag na MRT…tuloy napanis ang masarap na ulam kong tuwid na daan

  14. genesisbughaw on

    Greetings!
    While it is true that Mar Roxas holds some sense of combined ambition and caring to ordinary people as he potrayed and projected, his level of i.q. may seem far from his peers mixed with practicalities on matters of application as for me with due respect, fell short of what it means to be a presidential caliber.
    Your precisely right Sir. He has to reinvent himself and present to the Filipino People what they really mean of “TUWID NA DAAN”
    Even the Yellowbird well oiled machinery ,His “boy pick up” tagged or seen as the muchacho of Pnoy will be his heavy baggage when the campaign trail starts.
    I prefer Sen. Bong Bong Marcos than him.
    Mabuhay!

  15. Roxas – the great pretender.

    “The key to victory, Roxas said,
    would be convincing the lower classes that the person running had their interests at heart. Roxas confided to the Ambassador
    that he was not sure how he personally would tackle that problem, given that his Wharton MBA and ten years on Wall
    Street as an investment banker did not “exactly call to the common man.” ”
    Kenney

    (Extract from US Ambassador Kenney cable of meeting notes with Mar Roxas prior to 2010 elections – Wikileaks)

    Apart from the fact that Roxas does not have an MBA , it is very revealing that he likes to refer to voters as “the common man”. So pretentious and supercilious.
    And so it is no surprise that he likes to shout and swear at the “common” staff at Wack Wack golf club.
    Roxas is a prime example of elitist entitlement – and represents part of the problem, not part of the solution. He has no genuine interest in the “common man”.

    And to put his ‘investment banking’ career in perspective. He was a gofer, a simple analyst, in a small investment bank, ending up after 7 years, just 1 rung up from the bottom level. That must qualify as the slowest promotion in banking history. Not the ‘type A’ personality – more like, The Sheep of Wall Street.

    Mar Roxas is neither a visionary nor a strategist, and couldn’t see beyond next week, even if you gave him a calendar.
    An analyst, not a catalyst. A caretaker, not a change-maker. (His role in BPO, which he likes to tout, was as a result of the work of, and strategy from, Arthur Andersen, and Frank Holz in particular. Roxas went with the flow, but didn’t chart the course. In fact, credit where it is due, it was gloria arroyo who was one of the key ‘movers and shakers’ for the BPO/IT sector, and laid the foundations for its development and success)

    Mar Roxas lacks charisma – as exciting as watching paint dry, as dynamic as a sloth on prozac, and with a character as weak as San Miguel light.

    Embarrassing, and staged, photo ops will also not convince “the lower classes” that Roxas is a man of the people, or for the people, but simply reinforce his lack of empathy.

    The fundamental flaw in Mar Roxas persona is that he expects things to be handed to him, and is not a fighter. He lacks passion. He is a backroom boy, not a boardroom man. A follower, not a leader. He always needs some-one else to wipe his nose and tell him what to do. Like pnoy aquino, a mommy’s boy, and a clone of the clown.
    No surprise that he wants to try and get the presidency on the skirt tails of the current popularity of grace poe, and to take her out of the main race, rather than trying to earn it the hard way.

    Mar Roxas may like to look down upon his fellow filipinos, but they are not so stupid to imagine that he has much interest beyond his own, and his main patrons, the Zobel de Ayala’s, for whom he jumps through hoops like an obedient puppy.
    In a clean and honest election, the common sense of “the common man” will be a great leveller, and put him firmly in his place – as a loser.

    And Mar Roxas also has a lot of questions to answer about his performance in the Aquino administration, in both DOTC and DILG.
    When the pressure was on, and there were opportunities to shine, Roxas failed to be decisive and deliver. He also showed weakness in the aftermath of the mamasapano massacre by not pursuing justice, and being so meek and mild at being left out of the loop and made to look inconsequential.
    The only time Roxas ever responded with vigour was if an Ayala property was involved.

    Mar Roxas is not a conviction politician, but some-one continuing the family business/tradition. The poster boy of exclusivity, and inequality.
    He is not a bad person, but neither is he a good leader.
    He is not corrupt, but neither does he call out his self-serving colleagues. He would clearly continue the aquino hypocricy and policy of immunity/impunity for KKK and allies, not to mention being a future shield for aquino himself.

    He needs to man up, and be his own man, or game over before it has even begun.

    • I really like this, Hector. So very true, and so tragic that your description of Mar even became worse after he lost the vice presidency.

  16. We have two Aquino’s, two Macapagal’s . Are we ready for another Roxas’s and maybe Marcos’s. Is Mar Roxas good enough to be president after his stint with the DTI and DILG and his being an Abnoy man.

  17. P.Akialamiro on

    How could Roxas continue a ‘matuwid na daan’ if this doesn’t even exist. As pointed
    out. it is a “mere” slogan or a catchword. On the other hand, it is, in practice, even ‘divisive’ and ‘vindictive’ because only the enemies of the Aqiono government are being singled out. Some may say that how come there are those being prosecuted despite their affiliation with Pres. BS Aquino. True, but they are the ‘smaller fishes’ who are the “sacrificial lambs”. The real big ones are being spared.

    There was no ‘fire’ in the leadership of Mar Roxas. He did not show any indnependence or leadereship during his stint as DILG Secretary. He has not shown any delicadeza. He is a good man, but as a politician, he is a “goner”; he let his chances passed by.

  18. Roldan Guerrero on

    Mar`s most outrageous mistake was what he did in 2010 when he gave way to a STUPID Presidentiable who eventually won but almost if not completely made this nation a failed state. Mar will never be, if elected, be able to repair the damages PIGNOY inflicted to this country and the Filipinos. Mar will never be able to stop balcanizations of this country which started through his annointer, his STUPID MASTER. Mar will never be able to recover the moneys ( of which he is a participant/conspirator) the Yellow Army embezzled as I believe if he is elected he will free the PIGNOY and his Army of Yellow. MAR`s endorsement of the PIGNOY is no less than a KISS OF DEATH, even with all the the combined LOOTS on PDAF, DAP and GAA insertions in his bag. MAR`s Presidential Ambitions has Totally GONE with the WINDS since 2010.