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Why Mar Roxas should move on

/ 01:00 AM August 24, 2015

WHEN THE Philippines was granted independence by the United States on July 4, 1946, my father Modesto Farolan was appointed press secretary of the new Republic by President Manuel A. Roxas. He didn’t stay long in this position. After several months, the Philippine Foreign Service was organized by then Vice President and concurrent Foreign Secretary Elpidio Quirino. My Dad received a new appointment as the first Filipino consul general to Hawaii, home of the largest overseas Filipino community outside the continental United States.

Honolulu was to be our home for several years, and we grew up in one of the most famous tourist destinations in the world. My brother Benjamin and I studied at St. Louis School, a Catholic institution run by the Brothers of Mary. On summer breaks, my older brother would caddy at the nearby golf club along Nuuanu Avenue, while I had a regular newspaper route, delivering papers on my bike, the better to get away quickly from nasty dogs in the neighborhood. We learned how to play American football, and the Super Bowl was one of our favorite sporting events.

During school days, after classes, it was my habit to scatter my books all over the room, which I shared with my brother. This was followed by a quick nap before looking around for something to snack on.

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One afternoon, as I was about to take a nap, my father took me aside and told me a visitor was using my bed. I was not to disturb him. He explained that the young man was Gerardo Roxas, son of President Manuel Roxas. Gerardo was on his way to the United States when word was received that the president had suffered a heart attack after delivering a speech at Clark Air Base. The instruction from Manila was for him to return home immediately on the first available flight.

* * *

President Manuel Roxas was the first president of the Third Republic. Originally a Nacionalista Party member, he broke away to form the Liberal Party. As head of the new grouping, he won the presidential election in 1946, defeating the Nacionalista candidate Sergio Osmeña.

His son Gerardo, who warmed my bed while waiting for his return flight home, would become a pillar of the Liberal Party and a senator of the Republic. In 1963, Gerardo Roxas would top the senatorial elections and six years later in 1969, he would be the only Liberal Party candidate to survive a Nacionalista landslide.

Incidentally, tomorrow is the 91st birth anniversary of Gerardo Roxas. In 1982, he passed away in New York City.

Today, Mar Roxas, son of Gerardo and grandson of President Manuel Roxas, is the Liberal Party candidate for president in the elections scheduled for May 2016. Aside from serving as senator, Mar Roxas also occupied a number of Cabinet positions, namely trade and industry, transportation and communications, and currently interior and local government.

One would think that with such a distinguished background and political pedigree, Mar Roxas would be a shoo-in for the presidency.

Instead we find him waiting for Sen. Grace Poe on his offer to be his vice presidential running mate. After a number of meetings with President Aquino and with Roxas himself, Poe has not made any commitments and does not appear interested in the vice presidential slot of a Roxas candidacy.

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But Roxas says he will wait.

When a presidential candidate is considered strong and a winner, his problem is how to diplomatically turn down friends and party mates offering themselves as possible

running mates. But here we have a situation where Roxas is being turned down or made to wait not only by Senator Poe but also by others like Gov. Vilma Santos of Batangas and Rep. Leni Robredo of Camarines Sur. It may be accurate to say that no offers were made to the ladies concerned, but their statements of disinterest should be, at the very least, disturbing for Roxas.

The longer he waits for Senator Poe, the stronger the impression becomes that he is in a position of weakness and needs Poe to shore up his candidacy. I am no political analyst, but my gut feeling is that Senator Poe is running for the presidency herself in 2016. Why should she settle for No. 2 when the numbers indicate that the presidency is within her grasp? Her preferred teammate is said to be Chiz Escudero, one of the architects of “Noy-Bi,” which gave birth to the present candidacy of Vice President Jejomar Binay.

For Mar Roxas, waiting for the lady is a sign not just of weakness, but of indecision, exactly the trait that some of his critics consider as one of his greatest failings. It is time for him to move on.

* * *

Trump for president.

If you are bored with the local political scene, check out Fox News for the latest on billionaire Donald Trump, who is leading some 16 Republican contenders for the GOP presidential nomination. Among his closest rivals are non-politicians Dr. Ben Carson, an African-American neurologist, and Carly Fiorina, a former CEO of IT giant Hewlett Packard.

The latest polls also show Trump trailing former first lady and state secretary Hillary Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner, by a mere 6 percent. Clinton’s problems concerning her personal server, said to contain e-mails from her time in government office, continue to snowball, eroding the huge lead she once held among Democrats and Republicans at the time she announced her candidacy.

The first debate among GOP candidates was organized by Fox News. Faced with tough questions by Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, Trump accused Kelly of having “blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.” Recently in a town hall meeting in New Hampshire, he described rival Jeb Bush, younger brother of former president George W. Bush, as a “low-energy person,” who could not get things done. Jeb Bush is married to Columba Gallo, an American of Mexican descent.

What is the source of Trump’s staying power? Supporters say that Trump “tells it like it is.” He also doesn’t feel the need to make “politically correct” statements. During one campaign pit stop, Trump energized the crowd by saying, “We don’t need nice people in Washington. We need competent people.”

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