MANILA, Philippines – In a presidential campaign filled with stories that can beat soap opera storylines and poll ratings that are less than stellar, the administration’s presidential candidate is making a simple pitch: I’m no drama, all work.
Liberal Party (LP) standard-bearer Manuel Roxas II on Wednesday, January 27, released a new series of ads that are decidedly stripped-down, at least compared to previous ones.
The new ad features Roxas talking straight to the camera, without any bells or whistles.
“Mar Roxas po. Sabi nila hindi ako laki sa hirap. Wala akong madramang kuwento. Pero hindi naman tungkol sa akin ang eleksyon eh. Tungkol ito sa inyo at inyong pamilya. Hindi ko kayo bibigyan ng hugot. Ang tututukan ko, trabaho para sa inyo. Yun ang alam ko. Yun ang kaya ko,” he says, referencing his contenders for the presidency.
(I am Mar Roxas. They say I didn’t grow up poor. That I don’t have a dramatic story. But the elections aren’t about me. It’s about you and your family. I won’t give you drama. I’ll focus on creating jobs for you. That’s what I know. That’s what I’m good at.)
The key message of one of Roxas’s rivals, opposition standard-bearer Vice President Jejomar Binay, focuses on his past – that he has the same experiences as the average Filipino’s. Binay, orphaned at an early age, grew up poor and worked his way through college.
Another presidential race front runner, Senator Grace Poe, is running on the promise of a “Gobyernong May Puso (Government With A Heart)” but it’s her backstory that’s just as captivating. Poe, a foundling, was adopted by movie legends Fernando Poe, Jr. and Susan Roces.
Poe is currently facing disqualification cases because she supposedly failed to meet two requirements of presidential bets: natural-born citizenship and a 10-year residency.
Roxas’ latest ad is a departure from his previous TV placements – a glitzy music video featuring local celebrities that tanked and dramatic testimonies from those who’ve benefited from the current administration’s programs.
Still, Roxas makes mention of his promise to continue “Daang Matuwid (Straight Path),” the current administration’s tagline for its anti-corruption, good governance, and transparency platform.
“Itutuloy ko ang Daang Matuwid. Kung may kulang pa, pupunuin ko. Kung may mali pa, itatama ko (I will continue the Straight Path. If there’s anything lacking, I’ll correct it. If there’s anything wrong, I’ll make it right),” Roxas says.
But it’s the last line in the 30-seconder that packs the biggest punch. “Higit sa lahat, hindi ko kayo nanakawan (Most importantly, I will not steal from you),” says Roxas, another reference to Binay, who is facing allegations of corruption during his time as Makati Mayor.
Roxas’ ads were released on the same day the Senate’s Blue Ribbon sub-committee wrapped up its probe into corruption allegations against Binay.
The newest series of ads also feature versions in different Filipino languages. In the Hiligaynon version of the ad, Roxas says: “Bakit si Mar? Wala akong drama. Hindi ako pa-awa. Hindi ako siga-siga. Pero hindi ako abusado. Higit sa lahat, hindi ako magnanakaw. Walang drama, trabaho lang.”
(Why Mar? I’ve no drama. I won’t ask for your pity. I’m no bully. But I won’t abuse my power. More importantly, I’m not a thief. No drama, just work.)
Will it work?
The administration bet has always suffered from poor ratings, even hitting a low of 4 percentage points in early 2014 presidential preference polls. Roxas saw his numbers surge mid-2015, right after an endorsement from President Benigno Aquino III.
Roxas, according to the latest Social Weather Stations survey, is statistically tied for 3rd alongside Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte. December 2015 surveys by different polling firms placed him at 3rd or 4th.
The campaign season officially starts on February 9 yet.