Why Mar Roxas?

By Cocoy Dayao, as first published in his Facebook page on March 29, 2016.

Coarse hand

It was my first impression of Mar Roxas as he gave a firm handshake. I had the privilege to meet Mar Roxas a few months ago over dinner with a few friends. Mar Roxas arrived without fanfare. He walked into the room. We all stood up, one by one, as we recognized the person who just arrived. Mr. Roxas went around the room, and we each waited for our turn. He shook every hand before finally heading to the buffet line to get his own food.

We meet celebrities, and we think they are larger than life. Mar Roxas struck me as profoundly, a representative of decent Filipinos everywhere, even though Mar Roxas and his family enjoy a worry free life.

Mar Roxas spoke of course. That’s when you really see him shine as a leader of men. You could see the thoughtfulness in his character, and how Roxas worries about the Filipino’s future. Precisely the kind of leadership one expects– putting the troops before his own wants and desires.

Why should Mar Roxas be President then?

I had never worked for Mar Roxas. I saw only Mar Roxas the person through the prism of those who do know him best. Those who see him behind the the veil of public perception.

Secretary Edwin Lacierda talked about Mar Roxas. He worked with him for years, but not prior to Aquino’s Administration. And whenever he would tell stories about what he and Mar Roxas were up to, it was always a story about two brothers.
My favourite was something Secretary Lacierda shared on his Facebook wall. Every week, both Mar Roxas, and Edwin Lacierda have a ritual. They would run together in Camp Crame.

Running is Mar Roxas’ way of reenergising.

Both Secretary Lacierda and Mar Roxas were running. Mar Roxas said, “Edwin, lets finish this course together.”
“Let us do one minute of run, then one minute of walk, then one minute of run and a minute of walk until we get over this difficult portion,” Mar Roxas added.

“Mar could have continued on to run this difficult phase, and push himself to steel his resistance,” Secretary Lacierda narrated.

“Mar could have left me to walk the remainder of the exercise, and I would have happy indusged myself with a leisurely stride.”

That’s not what Mar Roxas did.

Mar Roxas kept pace with Edwin Lacierda instead. Mar Roxas ran with Edwin Lacierda all throughout the difficult phase of the run. Mar Roxas made sure Edwin Lacierda was right there with him. That’s who he is. A friend. And like the true leader of men that he was, Roxas made sure his buddy Edwin would finish the course.

Walang iwanan.

Secretary Lacierda’s Mar Roxas story is one about character. It showed who Mar Roxas really is at his core. A friend. A brother. He wouldn’t leave you behind. He is the kind of leader that puts the interest of others before his own. He is the kind of leader who would carry you to victory.

“Twenty-two years in politics,” Undersecretary Abi Valte began her Mar story. “Mar Roxas has seen it all. It is really difficult to be in government because temptation is all around you.”

Atty. Abi is a relative newbie to government service. She joined government service as a member of the Aquino administration. Undersecretary Valte narrated some of clever temptation that she experienced in the short time of her government service, and the difficulty in overcoming those challenges. “It’s very easy to give in to the temptation.”
“Mar Roxas has been in government for twenty-two years, and hasn’t a shade of corruption attached to his name. That’s a difficult thing to accomplish,” Atty Abi concluded.

My favourite story from Atty Abi would be early on in the Aquino administration. They were in Capiz with PNoy. It was a Friday, and the season was Lent. The President is known to abstain from meat during Fridays of Lent. Of course, nobody ate meat. It was all fish. There wasn’t a drop of meat served. At that point, Atty Abi’s never been to Capiz. Now, Capiz is famous for its Bachoy. And Atty Abi really wanted to try it out.

The President finished his meal, and left.

“Wag ka na malungkot,” Mar Roxas said. “Alam ko naman eto ang gusto mo.” And when the President left, true enough, the Bachoy was served.

Mar Roxas understands people profoundly. Behind the nice guy, he is observant and introspective. Roxas recognises what drives people, and where they come from that only a real leader of men could comprehend.

Paolo Roxas, Son of Mar
Paolo Roxas, Son of Mar

“My dad was pissed at me,” recalled Paolo Roxas, son of Mar. Paolo promised his dad some father-son bonding time. The two were suppose to meet at the driving range. Paolo overslept. When Paolo eventually got up to meet his dad in the driving range, the older Roxas was fuming. It was a teaching moment for father and son.
“You don’t waste other people’s time, Paolo.”

That day was the most Mar Roxas was mad at his son.

It is a lesson, Paolo Roxas says, he took to heart.

Paolo is the twenty-two year old only son of Mar Roxas. They say you learn a lot by observing other people’s kids. Paolo is a remarkable young man. He is as old as Mar Roxas’ career in politics. Already an accomplished public speaker, with a keen and inquisitive mind, the younger Roxas took time off from his university to campaign for his dad. Paolo’s team of three often hooks up with the main campaign to do Market runs. Paolo proxies for his dad. Almost everyday the younger Roxas is shaking hands with the public market vendors.

The Roxas-Robredo Platform

Not wasting other people’s time is something Mar Roxas acts on everyday. The Roxas-Robredo platform, is a well thought. It is a platform that focuses on the Filipino Family. Roxas is the only one of the four candidates who has thoroughly thought about what the next six years would be about.

Mar Roxas says his platform of governance is a systematic approach. It is a strategy that is based on accurate data, and facts. It is also a strategy that is an authentic, and compassionate service to ordinary Filipinos.

This is Mar Roxas with a plan.

This is also typical Mar Roxas.

One “innovation” Roxas came out with while Interior Secretary was to have accurate, and audited police blotter. As simple as that, Mar Roxas reduced crime in Metro Manila. Seven hundred and sixteen of the nine hundred and forty six most wanted, high-profile criminals were arrested. From 919 average number of crimes per week reported before lambat-sibat, the figure fell to 350 weekly. Between November 30 and December 6, 289 crimes were reported. This statistic resulted in a 60% drop in robbery, theft, catnapping and motorcycle-napping in the National Capital Region. The program was so successful, by the time he stepped down as Interior Secretary, Oplan Lambat Sibat was being cascaded to other regions.

Over the course of his career in politics, Mar Roxas had been instrumental in many big moments including the passing of the Cheaper Medicine Act as well as reducing taxes, something none of his competitors can claim.
The Roxas campaign is also focused on job creation. “I’m Mr. Trabaho, now.” Mar Roxas says. Like a mantra, the Roxas campaign is focused on delivering the message that it is about jobs. Jobs. Jobs.

Roxas has done it before.

Job creation.

Roxas is known as the father of the Business Process Outsourcing business in the country that now provides over a million jobs to Filipinos. He did this as Department of Trade and Industry Chief. As Trade chief, he was also instrumental in delivering a “transformation plan and assistance package” for the garment industry that also resulted in job creation.
In 2010, Mar Roxas lost. It was the first in his long career in public service. Edwin Lacierda recalled Mar saying later that the loss was a painful experience. For months after, Roxas and Korina were looking at the butiki in the ceiling, pondering what was next.

Why does Mar Roxas want to go through another gruelling fight?

The Roxas family, explained Mar, wants for nothing. He knows that Paolo Roxas will have a worry-free life he so chooses. Mar Roxas has already equipped Paolo for a life where he doesn’t have to worry about the bills. His wife and mother are in similar position. Mar Roxas doesn’t need to worry about them. They will all live a comfortable life.

Why does Mar Roxas want to put himself and his family for another gruelling fight?

“For this campaign, he’s leaving everything on the floor,” Paolo Roxas said of his dad.

Mar Roxas says he wants every Filipino to have the same opportunities that he does.

As Torch Bearer for Daang Matuwid, Mar Roxas carries it well. Daang Matuwid more than anything is a philosophy of governance that puts the decent Filipino, first. And 60% of Filipinos seem to agree.

Daang Matuwid has resulted in more roads paved; more schools put up, and more things done for infrastructure than ever before. This isn’t merely focused on Luzon or Metro Manila. The development is spread across the entire Philippines, and it isn’t enough. The fast paced infrastructure development translated to a per year increase on infrastructure vis-a-vis, GDP.
This Boom created by Daang Matuwid is sharply felt in Metro Manila. The north-south connector road can’t wait to be completed to help ease traffic to a metropolis bursting on the seems. The Economist described the situation as “Rising car ownership and appalling transport policies block the roads.”

“The biggest reason Manila’s roads move so slowly,” The Economist wrote, “Is that so many people now drive. The economy of the Philippines grew by 5.8% last year, and a swelling middle class is buying lots more cars (see chart). Driving, nicer and often quicker than public transport, is encouraged by minimum-parking rules, imported from America, which oblige developers to provide lots of parking spaces. Cars are thought to carry about 30% of people in the metropolis but account for 72% of traffic.”

It is an honest assessment of the problem of Metro Manila.

Transportation chief for less than 10 months, Mar Roxas set into motion some of the construction going around Metro Manila such as the North-South Connector that bridges the northern expressway with the southern expressway. Put it simply, it is another EDSA in the works that promises to speed travel time up.

Mar Roxas spent most of his time in the Aquino cabinet as Interior Secretary. He was President Aquino’s go-to-fix it man. In many ways, Mar Roxas operated as PNoy’s Vice President in all but name, and pay grade. It was Roxas, and Defense Chief Gazmin for example, who oversaw the operation in Zamboanga that resulted in the surgical and successful rescue of hostages by Nur Misuari’s Moro National Liberation Front. He stayed in Zamboanga for three months.

The presidency is about character.

Mar Roxas’ twenty-two years in public service is a record for working for the people. It was about job creation as Trade chief. It was about giving Cheaper Medicines, and lowering taxes— the only candidate that has done so in deed. It is a career that has put decent Filipinos, first.

Is Mar Roxas, a leader of men?

During the 2nd Presidential debate Vice President Binay, Senator Grace Poe, and Mayor Rody Duterte wanted to change the debate rules mid-flight. They wanted to change the rules to suit the moment. The Vice President for example wanted to give a reaction to a line of questioning from Senator Poe to Mar Roxas. Duterte agreed, as did Senator Poe. Perhaps, this part of the debate was the most telling about Mar Roxas’ character.

“Mr. VP,” TV5’s Luchi Cruz Valdez began, “I think we all agreed before we started the face off that there will be no more reactions from the other two candidates. So for the sake of interest and fair play, once again, I will have to confine it to the sagutan of Sen. Poe and Sec. Mar. And we’re already over-timing here Sen. Poe, so 15 seconds please just on that and another 30 seconds and that’s the last.”

“We are not satisfied by the answer,” interjected Mayor Rody Duterte.

Senator Grace Poe mussed, “I think maybe, okay, why don’t, you know, we’ve given you also certain concessions because we started late. Why don’t we give also a chance to…”

“Sure. If there is a consensus here,” Luchi Cruz Valdez said. “Sec. Mar, are you in agreement that they will also react?”
“But he’s also one. And two of them wants to or three,” Senator Grace Poe interjected.

“But we agreed before the segment po,” replied Luchi Cruz Valdez.

“Alam mo lahat tayo, lahat tayo nagsasabi…” Began Mar Roxas. “Lahat tayo nagsasabi, Rule of Law. Lahat tayo nagsasabi, susunod, ipapatupad natin ang batas. Lahat tayo, lahat tayo, lahat tayo nagsasabi… Masunurin tayo sa batas at sa mga areglamento.”

“So we shall keep to the debate rules that we agreed upon before this segment,” Luchi Cruz Valdez said. “Sec. Mar, yes, that’s a given po.”

“Tapos, ngayon, ayusan, aregluhan, hindi yan ang Pilipinas na nais kong pamunuan,” lamented Mar Roxas as his rivals wanted to change the rules to suit their purposes.

“Sec. Mar, we are hearing you,” Luchi Cruz Valdez said.

“Hindi po aregluhan ito,” Senator Grace Poe began. “Ito po ay pagboto ng mayorya, na ating dinadaan sa pagboboto.”
“Meron po tayong mga patakaran na pinagkasunduan,” Mar Roxas stated. “Kayo po ang nagsabi Senadora Grace, dapat we must be out at 8PM. Kayo po’ng nanguna non, kayo po’ng nagsabi, we must follow the rules.”

“Sec. Mar, yes,” Luchi Cruz Valdez said.

Mar Roxas is a decent Filipino. He isn’t an ordinary Filipino— not by birth, nor by circumstance. Mar Roxas simply looks ordinary, and bland. He isn’t as colourful as his others. He likes his numbers, but even more so, he thinks very deeply about ordinary Filipinos. All this is proven ground since Mar Roxas has been placed in numerous positions of leadership in his over two decades as a public servant. He is a man over the course of twenty-two years in politics has proven time and again, he would lead by example for decent Filipinos.

That’s Mar Roxas’ character. It comes with a track record of accomplishments. I don’t have to agree with Mar Roxas 100% of the time to say he is the next, best President. There is one thing though above all else why my vote goes to Mar Roxas. Mar Roxas, in my humble opinion— agree with him or not— will always put Filipinos, first. When it is four A.M. and the Chinese come knocking at our door, I have faith that Mar Roxas would put the interest of Filipinos first, whatever it may be. When making decisions for our country, I have faith that Mar Roxas would put Filipinos first before his own pocket, or his self-interest. I have faith that Mar Roxas would create opportunities for Filipinos to grow.

“The closest analogy I can give to what a great leader is, is like being a parent,” Simon Sinek said. “If you think about what being a great parent is, what do you want? What makes a great parent? We want to give our child opportunities, education, discipline them when necessary, all so that they can grow up and achieve more than we could for ourselves. Great leaders want exactly the same thing. They want to provide their people opportunity, education, discipline when necessary, build their self-confidence, give them the opportunity to try and fail, all so that they could achieve more than we could ever imagine for ourselves.”

This is exactly who Mar Roxas is. He’s a parent who wants to put Filipinos first. He wants to provide people opportunity, education, and as seen in the second debate has real discipline. Mar Roxas wants to build up the confidence of every Filipino. He’ll run with us like he did with Edwin Lacierda. He’ll give us the opportunity to achieve more than we could ever imagine Filipinos could. Mar Roxas’ track record, and his platform for governance is exactly that; to create opportunities for people to achieve more for ourselves. With an economy growing as it is growing today, we need a man on the helm who not only has the gravitas to stand eye-to-eye with world leaders, but a man who would put decent Filipinos first.

That is Mar Roxas. He will put Filipinos, first.

“Sa Pilipinas,” began Mar Roxas, “napakahirap maging disente, madalas ang mga disente sila pa ang nahuhuli, nahihirapan, magbabanat ka ng buto sa pagsasaka, bababratin ka ng trader at ikaw pa ang lugi may utang kapa, gagagwin mo ng tama ang iyong trabaho pero ang sipsip o kamag-anak ni bosi ng sila ang maganda ang schedule sila ang mataas ang sweldo, pipila ka sisingitan ka naman, magbabayad ka ng kuryente kakabitan ng jumper ang linya mo, itong sistemang ito ang nasimulan nating baguhin sa Daang Matuwid.”

“Sinita natin ang mga sumisingit at tinangal natin ang mga chapa. Alam natin lahat na marami pa tayong dapat gawin, kailangan na mapasama natin sa 4Ps, napakarami pa, milyong mga pamilya na nangangailangan, kailangan maisama natin sa Phil Health ang coverage para sa napakarami pang iba, marami pang mga tulay, kalye at classroom na kailangan mapagawa pero alam nyo, umaaligid nanaman itong mga nagjujumper, itong mga sumisingit dahil nais nilang hijackin yung ating magandang nasimulan na. Dapat natin ipaglaban ang Daang Matuwid, kung may kulang punuin natin, kung may mali, itama natin, para dito sa ating bansa tuluyan na makapamuhay tayo kung saan nagtatagumpay ang desente. Iniimbita ko po kayo, ibalik natin ang Pilipinas sa mga desenteng tao.”

The Philippines will best thrive in Mar Roxas’ coarse hands.

This is why Mar Roxas should be the next President.