The anointing of Mar Roxas

MANILA, Philippines – With Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas clinching the endorsement of President Benigno Aquino III, the question remains – will his anointment be enough to guarantee a win in the 2016 elections?

Bea Cupin reports.

It was a long and winding road filled with meetings, consultations, and vague answers.
But after months of dodging questions, Liberal party president-on-leave Manuel Roxas II clinches the President’s endorsement and announces his bid for the presidency in 2016.

MAR ROXAS, INTERIOR SECRETARY: Ngayon, buong katapatan, buong-loob, at buong-paninindigan kong tinatanggap ang tawag ng Daang Matuwid. Tulad ng sinabi po ninyo, Ginoong Pangulo, “Simula pa lang ito. Laban pa rin tayo.”

(Today, I faithfully, wholeheartedly, and firmly accept the call of the ‘Daang Matuwid.” Like what you said, Mr. President, ‘This is only the beginning. We will continue the good fight.’)

But the launch, if Roxas and the current administration’s allies are to be believed, is not about Mar Roxas.
This is the key message: the “Daang Matuwid,” reforms, good governance, and continuity.

BENIGNO AQUINO III, PHILIPPINE PRESIDENT: Bakit tayo magpapaakit sa “baka,” kung meron namang sigurado? Sa madaling salita po, doon na po tayo sa siguradong itutuloy ang Daang Matuwid. At ang paniniwala ko po, ang taong ito, walang iba kundi si Mar Roxas.”

(Why must we allow ourselves to be attracted to “maybe,” when we can be certain? We will go with whom we can be certain will continue the Straight Path. And I believe that person is none other than Mar Roxas.)

It will not be an easy journey for the Liberal Party stalwart. His numbers are anything but inspiring.
The senator who was close to snatching the endorsement away from Roxas, Senator Grace Poe, tops preference surveys.

But that was not an issue for Roxas’ political allies.

JOEY SALCEDA, ALBAY GOVERNOR: Ngayon internally, trese siya. Unang una ito, may kick to eh, may nomination bounce ito. Yung certainty of running, yung certainty ng anointment. So competitive na kami. I think, after this, Mar will overtake Binay.

(Internally, he has 13 percentage points. First of all, this has a kick. There’s a nomination bounce. It’s the certainty of running, the certainty of the anointment. So we’re competitive.)

It’s clear as day: the 2016 Roxas campaign is about selling to voters the idea that the best has yet to come.

MAR ROXAS, INTERIOR SECRETARY: Naniniwala ako: Hindi lang ito tungkol sa akin o kay PNoy. Ang Daang Matuwid ay tungkol sa mga pangarap ng bawat Pilipino. Sabi nga ng Pangulo: It is worth fighting for. It is worth sacrificing for, and dying for if need be.

(It is my belief that this is not about me or PNoy. The ‘Daang Matuwid’ is about the dream of every Filipino. Like the President said: It is worth fighting for. It is worth sacrificing for, and dying for if need be.)

Roxas shuns his trademark blue.
He's wearing the bright yellow of the Liberal Party, a throwback to the current president’s late mother, EDSA revolution icon and former president Cory Aquino.

The venue – Club Filipino – is not only historic but nostalgic.
It’s the same hall where Cory was sworn into the presidency, where Roxas let go of his presidential dreams in 2009 and where Noynoy Aquino stepped up to run for president.

BEA CUPIN, REPORTING: But after the arms are raised and the confetti swept away, comes the real work. In a country where politics is fuelled by the cult of personality, are voters ready to bet on an idea? Or will the Daang Matuwid end here?

Bea Cupin, Rappler, Manila – Rappler.com