Roxas: ‘Daang Matuwid needs defending’

Bea Cupin

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Roxas: ‘Daang Matuwid needs defending’
During a visit to Davao City, the administration standard-bearer warns against politicians and other groups who want to revert the country to the 'old ways' 

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – On his visit to a third province in just 3 days, administration standard-bearer Manuel Roxas II warned against foes of the current administration’s reformist movement who want to regain power by returning to the “old ways.” 

A visibly cheerful Roxas arrived in Davao City past 2:30 pm Friday, August 14, to meet municipal mayors from Mindanao, speak to the local archbishop, and conduct a dialogue with supporters of his presidential bid. 

“Daang Matuwid needs defending,” Roxas told a room full of supporters in Davao City. 

“There are those whose power, stature, importance only come about if we go back to the old days,” he added, without naming names. 

Roxas’  2016 campaign, according to the Cabinet official and the ruling Liberal Party, hinges on the importance of continuing the Aquino administration’s “Daang Matuwid,” the tagline for its transparency, good governance, and anti-corruption platform. 

Speaking to members of the League of Municipalities (LMP) Mindanao cluster, the interior secretary waxed nostalgic over his past years as “big brother” to local chief executives before cutting to the chase. 

Tayo, titimbangin ulit ng ating mga kababayan at sasabihin ulit nila, ‘Bilasa o sariwa’? (Soon, our fellow Filipinos will assess us and they will again say, ‘Rotten or fresh?’)” said Roxas, referring to the nearing 2016 elections.

Detours and U-turns 

“Good governance,” said Roxas, “is good politics.” He then went on to narrate the gains of the Aquino administration under “Daang Matuwid.”

“Sa darating na buwan magkikita na tayo ulit, sana anyayahan ‘nyo ako sa mga bayan ‘nyo. Sana po magkita tayo ulit at magkasama tayo ulit dahil itong pinaglalaban natin ay laban na tama lang ang ipaglalaban. Ipinaglalaban natin ang mga pangarap ng ating mga kababayan. Ipinaglalaban natin na hawak ng mga kababayan natin ang kanilang kapalaran,” he said. 

(In the coming months we’ll see each other again and I hope you’ll invite me to your towns. I hope we’ll see each other again and help each other because this fight is a fight worth fighting. We are fighting for the dreams of our countrymen. We’re fighting for our countrymen’s right to reach their dreams.) 

In two of his speaking engagements on Friday, Roxas had the same message: Of the “difficulty” in continuing the “Daang Matuwid” and of those who are against it. 

Hindi po magiging madali ito. Meron tayong mga kalaban. Meron pong nagnanais na itong Tuwid na Daan na tinatahak natin ngayon ay mag-detour o baka mag-U-turn pa, bumalik sa nakaraan,” he told the LMP Mindanao cluster.

(This will not be easy. We have enemies. There are those who want to take a detour from the Daang Matuwid. Some even want a U-turn, a return to the old ways.)

Roxas started his speech before mayors with pickup lines and jokes but turned serious when he started speaking of the supposed “threats” to the current administration’s method of governance. 

He said a “U-turn” would mean the return of political patronage, and of local chief executives having to butter up national leaders just to get the funding they need. 

Under the Aquino administration and during his term as DILG chief, Roxas claimed, politics played no role in determining which project would be given to a particular city. 

Will his day come? 

Speaking to reporters, Roxas was both emotional and assertive.

“Our Day Will Come,” he said, reading the title of one of the songs printed in the booklets given out during the meet. 

Archbishop Romulo Valles, whom Roxas visited prior to his meeting with supporters, only had warm words for the presidential aspirant. He stopped short of endorsing the interior secretary but said he felt compelled to speak about a “good person” when he sees one. 

OLD COLLEAGUES. Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and former senator Nene Pimentel, former Senate colleagues, chat at the sidelines of the LMP Mindanao cluster assembly in Davao City on August 14, 2015. Photo by Bea Cupin/Rappler

The response to Roxas’ visit to Davao was warm, although perhaps not as frenetic as the launch of his presidential bid in Club Filipino, Gloria Maris, or even in Cebu City

Davao, after all is the bailiwick of another person believe to be eyeing the presidency, Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who also happens to be Roxas’ friend. 

Even beyond Davao, there is a sense of political uncertainty. The ruling LP-led coalition is in danger of crumbling as 2016 approaches. 

Members of the powerful Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), for instance, seemed divided over several candidates – survey front runner Senator Grace Poe, Roxas, Duterte, and even opposition standard-bearer Vice President Jejomar Binay. (READ: Divided NPC? Mar Roxas meets key members)

Even at the LMP meet, mayors affiliated with the NPC said they had yet to decide which candidate to support. 

The presidential run of Roxas is a long-time coming. He was supposed to run for president in 2010 but stepped down at the last minute to give way to Aquino. (READ: Mar Roxas: The long road to endorsement

When he announced his decision in 2009, Roxas said then that it was one of the toughest decisions he had ever made in his life. He ran for vice president but lost to Binay in 2010.

2016 will be just as difficult and Roxas knows as much. His survey numbers have been discouraging – he’s currently ranked third, behind Poe and Binay – but his allies expect to see a boost after the president’s endorsement and his declaration. 

“If the battle is not hard, we’re not pushing hard enough. If the battle is not hard, maybe it’s not worth fighting. The hardest battles are the ones worth fighting because we’re fighting for what is good, for what is right, and for what is for the common good,” Roxas said. –

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.