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How much did richest officials pay in income taxes?

The names of the wealthiest Cabinet members have been released, as determined by their statements of assets, liabilities and net worth. Earlier, the names of the wealthiest senators and congressmen were made public.

The people would surely find it interesting and helpful if the Bureau of Internal Revenue discloses how much each of these officials paid in income taxes.

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Who is Mar Roxas, and why are they saying all those nasty things about him?

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Over the past few months, social media have had plenty of negative stories about him. That he was a failure both in rehabilitating Zamboanga City after the skirmishes with a faction of the Moro National Liberation Front, and in saving the people of Tacloban City from the wrath of Supertyphoon “Yolanda.” That his recent tiff with employees of the Wack Wack Golf and Country Club showed bad manners. That he can’t do anything right. That his popularity rating is dropping in the opinion polls while that of his expected rival in the 2016 presidential election is rising.

In a recent survey by Pulse Asia, he got a measly 6 percent while Vice President Jejomar Binay got a whopping 40 percent. He is being written off as the next president of the country.

All right, Roxas’ popularity with the public is dropping, and Binay is way ahead of him. So why are they still hitting him? Is it because they are afraid of him? Are the brickbats just another way to camouflage their fears? Are the critics so afraid of the man? Why?

The widespread perception is that President Aquino will anoint Roxas as his official candidate before the election campaign kicks off. This perception drives the stake of fear in the hearts of corrupt politicians, because the President is intent on continuing his anticorruption campaign even after his term ends.

The man expected to do that is Mar Roxas. But why him? Because his name has never been associated with political corruption. “He has been called ‘weak,’ sometimes ‘incompetent,’ but never corrupt,” said a political observer.

On the other hand, the family of his expected opponent has pending corruption cases in the courts. These are being kept quiet in the courts but will surely surface when the election campaign begins. And the people are so fed up with corruption, as shown by the public outrage against the pork barrel scam, that they are expected to vote for a candidate who will continue P-Noy’s campaign to rid the government of corruption. Do they fear this man who can finally stop corruption?

That fear is so apparent that recently, his critics almost danced in the streets when his wife, broadcast journalist Korina Sanchez, was implicated in the Napoles list of purported beneficiaries of the pork barrel scam. But their glee was premature. Sanchez was cleared by the television network she works for and by the person who supposedly received the “birthday gift” on her behalf.

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But who is Mar Roxas, really?

He was an investment banker when his brother, Dinggoy, a congressman, died while in office. Reluctantly, he ran in the special election to fill up the vacant seat, and won.

He served two terms as representative of his home province of Capiz, then ran for the Senate. He was on his second term when he was appointed by President Joseph Estrada to head the Department of Trade and Industry. As DTI chief, he earned the moniker “Mr. Palengke,” for his frequent visits to the public markets to check on and prevent profiteering.

Then he ran again for a Senate seat, and won.

It seemed that he was on the way to the presidency when he, as the nominee of the Liberal Party, decided to give way to then Sen. Benigno Aquino III as presidential candidate. In a twist peculiar to the Philippine electoral system where the people can vote for a vice presidential candidate who is not the running mate of the presidential candidate they voted for, he lost to Binay while his running mate won. It was the first election loss in his career.

Appointed by Mr. Aquino to the Department of Transportation and Communications, Roxas restored a policy of transparency as a deterrent to graft and corruption. He required public bidding for all projects of the department, a departure from the negotiated contracts of the previous administration.

When Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo died in a plane crash in August 2012, the President named Roxas as the new chief of the Department of Interior and Local Government.

Now that the political scene is heating up for the 2016 presidential election, Roxas is expected to be the candidate of the ruling Liberal Party. Other presidential hopefuls have been tainted by the Napoles pork barrel scam. Not him.

A political observer said: “Let’s not write off Mar Roxas just yet. The man may yet spring a surprise.”

If, by 2016, the Filipino people end up so sick of corruption in the government, then it may well be that the stage has been set for the renaissance of a political career thought to be on the way down.

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TAGS: corruption, Janet Lim-Napoles, Janet Napoles, Jejomar Binay, Mar Roxas, Philippine politics
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