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Clearer now that Roxas is LP bet

/ 12:31 AM June 03, 2015

Now it’s becoming clearer: Mar Roxas is almost sure to be the administration’s presidential candidate in 2016. Last week, President Aquino all but confirmed that his interior secretary could be the standard-bearer of the Liberal Party next year. A few days later, Roxas’ mother, Judy Araneta-Roxas, told sugar planters that, yes, her son is running for president. But Roxas himself, like a shy maiden already in love with a suitor but still refuses to say yes, limits his response to: “I am ready” (for the presidency).

Why is Roxas so pakipot (playing coy)? Ask his frustrated supporters and admirers.

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The reason, according to his handlers, is that he does not want to be accused of premature campaigning like his rival, Jejomar Binay, who has been prematurely campaigning since 2010 when he became vice president. Instead of doing his work, Binay has been going around the country and even to Filipino communities abroad, at government expense, shaking hands and delivering campaign speeches.

Binay is the Cabinet member assigned to look after the welfare of overseas Filipino workers and to provide housing for the homeless. But hundreds of OFWs are languishing in prisons in other countries, many of them on death row. A domestic worker, Mary Jane Veloso, came close to execution by firing squad in Indonesia. Where was Binay? Away campaigning for votes.

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Many more are in danger of being executed. What is Binay doing for them? Nothing. He is too busy shaking the hands of voters and delivering campaign speeches.

We see squatters everywhere occupying the properties of people who pay the taxes and creating blights in cities and the otherwise beautiful Philippine countryside. Binay is supposed to provide them with housing. But where is he? Away courting voters.

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Back to the President and Roxas. P-Noy said of the latter: “He has demonstrated quite a range of expertise in so many different assignments. He is a valuable member of the Cabinet.

“He has been a staunch leader of the party even during the days when we were in the opposition. And he has demonstrated the ability to sacrifice. Previously, for instance, he gave way to me. So all these traits should point out that he is, to my mind—as far as our coalition is concerned—at the top of the list.”

The President also had a say on Binay, who is perceived to be the man to beat based on his lead in the voter preference surveys. That lead, the President said, “rests on how Binay can answer the corruption charges against him.”

Before Roxas’ party mates and supporters start uncorking the champagne bottles, however, it is still a long time before the President makes his preference official after his last State of the Nation Address on July 27. Between now and then, Roxas said, he will stick to his own agenda: work, work and more work.

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Roxas is no stranger to this work ethic, to which he has adhered since his days as an investment banker in New York after earning his economics degree from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Economics.

He has a good pedigree: His grandfather was the late president Manuel Roxas and his father was the late senator Gerardo Roxas. He entered the political arena reluctantly, when his younger brother, Dinggoy, a congressman, died while in office. He ran in the special election called to fill the vacant seat, and won.

He served two terms as representative of his home province of Capiz. He was on his third 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 advocacy of fair trade practices, particularly in public markets.

Subsequently, he ran for a Senate seat and topped the winners. He lost by a mere 750,000 votes when he ran for the vice presidency in 2010 (the first loss in his election career), and that was because some members of the Aquino-Cojuangco clan double-crossed him and secretly campaigned for a “Noy-Bi” (Noynoy-Binay) ticket concocted by Sen. Chiz Escudero. As an aside, Chiz was among the first to sign the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee report recommending to the Ombudsman the filing of plunder charges against Binay—which shows that Chiz admits to making a mistake by supporting Binay in 2010.

When Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo died in a plane crash in September 2012, P-Noy appointed Roxas to fill the vacated seat. And Roxas has been doing a good job there since.

The field of aspirants for the presidency is narrowing down. Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who was posting respectable numbers in the surveys, rejected Binay’s invitation to be his running mate. Earlier, Binay also tried to get Sen. Grace Poe, the topnotcher in the 2010 senatorial polls and No. 2 in the current presidential surveys, but she rejected him with cutting words. She said she does not see herself teaming up with Binay because she thinks “a president should be honest and have integrity.”

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Musical notes: For fans of Margaux Salcedo asking when her next gig will be at the Tap Room of the Manila Hotel, that’s tonight. Margaux will sing love songs and hits of The Carpenters from the 1970s for her parents, who celebrated their wedding anniversary with a bash last week at the Manila Hotel.

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TAGS: 2016 Elections, Jejomar Binay, Judy Araneta-Roxas, Liberal Party, Mar Roxas, Margaux Salcedo, P-Noy, presidential candidates, Rodrigo Duterte
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