MANILA, Philippines – Former interior secretary Manuel "Mar" Roxas II was the first to file a certificate of candidacy (COC) for senator at the Commission on Elections headquarters in Intramuros, Manila on Tuesday, October 16.
With the filing of his candidacy, Roxas officially broke his hiatus of more than two years to once again join the fray of politics.
"Parang it's a continuous loop, parang déjà vu (like a continuous loop, like déjà vu)," Roxas said, saying that he has "moved on" from his loss to President Rodrigo Duterte in the 2016 presidential elections.
Roxas, the economist, said his campaign will address proposed solutions to high prices.
"This campaign is not about 2016, this is not a 2016 redux. It's about our future, it's about paano ipagkakasya ng pangkaraniwang tao 'yung 500 pesos niya – 'yan 'yung tinatawag na pocketbook economics. Sa kabila nitong mga macro and policies ng gobyerno ng mga ekonomista, lahat ito dapat pumasok ito sa pocketbook economics na P500 a day na hawak ng ordinaryong Pilipino," said Roxas, also a former trade secretary.
(It's about figuring out a way how an ordinary Filipino can manage his P500 pesos in a day – that's what we call pocketbook economics. Beyond the macro or policies of this government and the economists, it has to fall within the pocketbook economics of making sure that P500 is enough for the ordinary Filipino.) (READ: Mar Roxas calls time-out from travel blog to talk about rice crisis)
Roxas only confirmed his plan to run the day before, on Monday, October 15, in a video posted on his Facebook page. He said that his family would have preferred for him to retire from politics.
"Sa totoo lang 'yung pamilya ko is 'Tama na, naibigay mo na ang lahat, masarap na ang buhay natin, quiet na tayo, wala ka nang dapat patunayan pa kahit kanino dahil natugunan mo na ang tungkulin mo bilang public servant nang maayos.' Pero nitong mga nakaraang linggo, hindi makayanan ng kalooban ko na parang, ano, ganyan na lang ba? Hindi pa tapos ang trabaho sa nation building, may matutulong pa ba? Oo," Roxas said.
(To tell you the truth, my family said 'Enough, you have given it all, we have a good life, we have a quiet life, you don't have to prove yourself to anyone because you have done your job as a public servant well.' But these past few weeks, I was bothered by my conscience, is this all we can do? The work on nation-building is not yet done, and can I still help? Yes.)
Roxas will have to run a campaign at a polarizing time in Philippine politics, when a clear line has been drawn between the opposition and the aggressive support base of the administration.
Roxas and former president Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III have been the target of recurring criticisms, particularly the question on how Yolanda funds were spent.
"'Yung sinasabing Yolanda funds na tinatanong sa akin, tanungin 'nyo ang DBM. 'Yung mga bumabato nito, sila ang may hawak ng gobyerno, nasa DBM, nasa Department of Finance, sila ang may hawak ng record, kung ano ang mga perang pumasok mula sa labas, anong mga pera ang hawak ng gobyerno at saan napunta ito, makikita na walang koneksyon si Mar Roxas diyan. 'Yan ang facts, 'yan ang totoo, 'yung mga ayaw pang makita ang katotohanan, hindi ko alam kung ano ang magagawa ko," Roxas said.
(This so-called Yolanda funds that they're asking me, why not ask the DBM (Department of Budget and Management). Those people who are throwing this issue at me, they're the ones who are in government, ask the DBM, the Department of Finance, they have the records, why don't they check how much money was given to us, how it was spent, and they will see that Mar Roxas is not connected to any of it. Those are the facts, that's the truth, and those who don't want to see the truth, I don't know what else I can do.)
Roxas, who turned 61 years old this year, spent the last two years of the Duterte administration traveling around the country and vlogging.
Between his surfing, running, and yoga activities, Roxas said his break gave him the chance to know ordinary Filipinos better.
"Maayos ang Pilipino, nagnanais lamang at nangagarap ng even chance, pantay na laban (Filipinos are good people who are only aspiring and dreaming for an even chance, an equal fight)," he said.
Roxas lost the vice presidency to Jejomar Binay in 2010, and the presidency to Duterte in 2016 by a 7-million margin. – Rappler.com