Mar Roxas ‘wasting money,’ forgetting lessons from 2010

Bea Cupin
Mar Roxas ‘wasting money,’ forgetting lessons from 2010
Senator Serge Osmeña, who once headed but later deserted the Aquino-Roxas campaign in 2010, says Roxas is also wasting time trying to strengthen ‘local infrastructure’

MANILA, Philippines – The former campaign manager of President Benigno Aquino III has a simple reminder for Aquino’s anointed candidate: Don’t forget the lessons of 2010.

Senator Sergio Osmeña III on Monday, November 30, said Manuel Roxas II, standard-bearer of the ruling Liberal Party (LP), seemed to forget that the 2010 campaign “started with no local infrastructure.”

“You don’t need the local infrastructure. He is wasting his time and his money trying to collect all of the congressmen, mayors and governors. That’s the biggest expense,” Osmeña said during a guesting on DWIZ. “Magbibigay ka ng 5 million, ng 10 million sa mga congressmen-candidates, wala namang resulta iyan.” (You give 5 million, 10 million pesos to congressmen-candidates, but that doesn’t give results.)

(READ: Supporting other bets? Then leave LP, says Erice)

Osmeña, who is seeking re-election as an independent candidate, was asked to evaluate the campaigns of Roxas and opposition standard-bearer Vice President Jejomar Binay.

Nakakalimutan ni Mar iyong experience niya in 2010 (Mar has forgotten his experience in 2010),” said Osmeña of the former interior secretary and losing 2010 vice presidential candidate.

Osmeña was among the key supporters of Aquino in 2010, when Aquino, then a senator, sought the presidency after his popularity surge on the heels of the death of his mother, democracy icon and former president Cory Aquino. Roxas was set to be the LP’s standard-bearer in 2010 but slid down to make way for Aquino.

The veteran political strategist said that back in 2010, the Aquino-Roxas ticket only had bets for “10% of position.”

“By definition, we had no political infrastructure,” he added.

When Osmeña stepped into the campaign, Aquino had only covered 25 of 80 provinces, despite having campaigned for over 5 months. Osmeña was livid.

Ang sabi ko, ‘anong ginawa niyo?! Bakit naging ganito ito?’’ Ang sabi nila, wala kasi silang tao sa ibang lugar kaya hindi sila dun nagpupunta. Ang sabi ko, ‘Hindi, mali iyan. You have to visit even if you don’t have anybody there. Bigyan mo lang ako ng driver and pick-up,’” he said.

(I told them, ‘What are you doing? Why did it get this bad?’ They told me it’s because they didn’t have people in other areas so they didn’t go there. I told them, ‘No, that’s wrong. You have to visit even if you don’t have anybody there. Just give me a driver and a pick-up.’)

Osmeña said even the late Jesse Robredo, who was then “in charge of ground troops” was initially transfixed on the importance of local machineries. Robredo was interior secretary until his untimely death in 2013.

His widow, Camarines Sur Representative Leni Robredo, is now Roxas’ running mate.

Towards the homestretch of the 2010 campaign, Osmeña left, amid infighting within the team. (READ: Mar Roxas: The long road to endorsement)

It was Roxas who took over Aquino’s campaign, holding daily meetings with Aquino’s team and only joining campaign sorties after lunch. It was a decision that came with a heavy price: an electoral defeat for Roxas.

A better and more cost-efficient way to campaign, said Osmeña, was through media – local radio, in particular.

It’s a strategy that Roxas and his team have been employing, with numerous media guestings sandwiched between political sorties and various presidential fora. – 

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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.