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#TheLeaderIWant: Mar Roxas on Daang Matuwid and decisiveness

Five years after giving way to President Benigno Aquino III as the Liberal Party's presidential candidate, Administration standard-bearer Mar Roxas is preparing for the campaign trail once again. His numbers may not be topping the election surveys but he has since gone up the polls after Aquino's endorsement.

But is he the kind of leader that will make you want to vote or #TheLeaderIWant?

Rappler talked to Roxas on the challenges of continuing Daang Matuwid beyond 2016. 

 

MARIA RESSA: Hello and welcome. This is the first of a series that we'll do on #TheLeaderIWant. It is part of Rappler's election coverage. In the hot seat today, former DILG Sec. Mar Roxas with the ruling Liberal Party. Thank you for joining us.

 

MAR ROXAS: Happy to be here Maria, Glenda, Bea. Sa ating mga taga-subaybay ay magandang hapon sa ating lahat.

 

MARIA RESSA: So we'll be... the three of us will be tossing questions to Mar and what we will do first is we'll do a question and a follow up. And then after that you're going to take three questions so you'll have an idea what we're each interested in, three questions each and we'll start with that with the person closest to Mar on a daily basis, Bea Cupin. So let me start, I'll start with... unique time in history, these elections are extremely tight. You have a perspective that no one else really has and will help determine history. How do you see Philippine politics today?

 

MAR ROXAS: Well, I think that it's evolutionary. Certainly, I see an electorate that is much more educated, much wordlier, much broader than 2010, and than 2004, and every iteration before that. We have 10 million people in the diaspora, we've got 1 million people who are here earning their income, essentially being connected to the outside world. That's in the IT, BPO, Call Center industry. There's another 1 million, roughly, people who are earning their money through IT by being editors, graphic artists, English teachers and tutors to the rest of the world. So you can't help but be much wordlier, much more attuned to modernity and modernization, and global patterns. So it's a very exciting time and I think that 2016 is very, very unique because for the first time in many generations, it is actually a valid campaign platform to say 'ituloy'. Kadalasan, in every election, patalsikin, baguhin, reporma, etc. ang panawagan. But for 2016, because of the performance of President PNoy and Daang Matuwid, it is a very, very valid, credible platform for us. And that's exactly what Leni and I are projecting, which is itutuloy natin ang Daang Matuwid. And I think for those reasons, it's going to be quite unique.

 

MARIA RESSA: And to follow up again to you, because you are... if you become president you will lead this country. What lessons have you learned about leadership?

 

MAR ROXAS: I think that, I think that the lessons of leadership are... have always been there. It's credibility, it's transparency, and it's really inclusiveness, consensus building, consultative. There's an old Chinese proverb that I always remember and apply to the best that I can. If you wanna go fast, bring few. If you wanna go far, bring many. And that speaks to gaining the trust and the confidence of the entire Filipino nation. And you can only really do that by being truthful and credible. By showing them that truly their interest is above all other interests; and that your actions are for their welfare. So we can move our country very far, as PNoy has been able to do over the last five years; because he has shown those leadership qualities and the people have respond. I think that it's... it's notable at no time in our history that in year five of a presidency, the President enjoys 65% approval and trust ratings. I think that's a... that's very, very unique, that's notable, and unheard of in contemporary history. But that did not happen by chance, that did not happen by luck. That happened because consistently, PNoy and Daang Matuwid were true to what we presented ourselves to be in 2010.

 

MARIA RESSA: Fantastic. Bea Cupin, who shadows you on a daily basis takes the stage and then she'll be followed by Rappler's Managing Editor Glenda Gloria.

 

BEA CUPIN: Sir your last position in government, as DILG, you're always at the forefront of disasters...

 

MAR ROXAS: Not questing them, just responding to them.

 

BEA CUPIN: Literally, you were there before typhoons would make land fall, preparedness, mitigation, response, that all fell under you when you were DILG Chief. What lessons did you learn from those experiences, particularly in 2013 na sunod-sunod, it was Bohol, and then Zamboanga, and then you have Yolanda.

 

MAR ROXAS: I think the lesson there is presence counts. Many times, it's really the physical help that you can bring. But more often than not, it's the... it's the lakas loob, it's the confidence, it's the hope that your presence conveys to the victims that a... hindi kami nag-iisa, hindi kami nakalimutan, at kahit papano makakarating yung pinsala o makakarating yung problema namin sa mga matataas na opisyal at masasagip kami or maaasikaso kami. Sec. Volts and I were in Zamboanga from the very first day and we stayed... we lived there for 21 days. The whole city was under siege, roughly 500 fully armed insurgents and... had come in and tried to take over the city. Government forces were stretched thin all throughout the archipelago and so they had to be reassembled. And for the first few days it was really just a holding action, containment. Before it became a encirclement and then finally it became coming in and eliminating the hostage takers and the insurgents. So... so it's really keeping the confidence alive of the rest of the populace; providing leadership at the ground level. The President himself was there for nine days also to provide leadership. And I think that this is the key... I think this is one of the key lessons that... that we've learned and also that we have shown our people. Your presence is tumototoo ka eh, tumototoo ka sa iyong pagiging lingkod bayan. And these are not presences na you come in with a few bags of goods, do the photo op, and then chopper out. We were there before the calamities and storms, we stayed through, and we committed ourselves until stabilization, until the normal processes could restart, until we... until we let go and we went back to Manila. So for Sec. Volts, for myself, for Sec. Dinky, for the President, for all of us who are really at the front lines. It's not just physically being there, but also giving the hope that you're not being left behind and that your government will be there to help you.

 

BEA CUPIN: Pero sir kambal din ata nun, being in the frontlines, kambal din nun yung controversy, I mean in every disaster that you attend to you will always attract controversy, for example yung Yolanda, it's something that your detractors to this day are bringing up again in social media, offline, that meeting between you and Mayor Romualdez where he claimed that you were asking for documentation pa when his city is in need.

 

So looking back, what was the thought process, why did you find that necessary for instance?

 

MAR ROXAS: First of all in this job, as in all jobs, including the job that I am aspiring to, sala sa init-sala sa lamig, you know what I mean? Your not there, bakit wala dito yan? Pag pumunta ka naman, bakit nandito yan? Right?

 

So at the end of the day we just do what we think is right, as regards Yolanda this meeting was maybe a week already, this was several days after Yolanda had hit, we attended to bringing resources, massive resources from the outside into the storm area in particularly Leyte and Tacloban.

 

Everything that was propositioned, everything that was prepared before Yolanda was wiped out, Secretary Volts and I put ourselves at risk, we were there beforehand precisely to embody the seriousness of the situation to tell the locals this is a very very strong typhoon, category 5 and in fact notwithstanding that, we ourselves did not really imagine how strong this typhoon could be, I mean this is the strongest typhoon that ever hit land in recorded human history.

 

So talagang napakatindi nitong si Yolanda and the very first hours when we were walking, trying to get to the airport because there was no communication and our thinking was airport power may connection sa Manila yun. We have to tell Manila how bad things are here, we have to tell them na talagang nawipe out ito.

 

From those very first hours, well 24 hours later the airport, we were able to clear, the first C130 landed and full force ang ayuda, ang tulong na dinala sa typhoon area. That particularly meeting was really taken out of context and politicized, in fact it was my effort to depoliticize the situation, I was appealing to the Mayor, "Mayor ano ba talaga ang kakayanin ninyo kung wala naman sabihin po ninyo, pero kung meron ano ba ang kakayanin ninyo at ano ba ang maidadala nung national government kasi hindi lang naman po yung Tacloban ang nasalanta o napinsala?"

 

There were 171 local government units, millions of people across Visayas, from Eastern Samar to Western Samar to the entirety of Leyte, Northern Cebu, Northern Negros, Panay Island all the way to Palawan were all hit along the Yolanda highway.

 

So we were trying to rationalize resources, attention, what needs to be done first so it was really my effort to tell the Mayor, hindi ko talaga gustong ma-politika ito, in fact you must remember that this is a political situation because of you are and who the president is.

 

So it wasn't in the manner of the threat or in the manner na iwiwithhold but really, intindihin ninyo mayor na gusto namin linawin ito, hindi na, hindi na hindi dinadala ang tulong, tuloy tuloy ang pagdating ng tulong pero moving forward may kakayanin ba o wala because kung wala naman din dadalhin namin at ipriprioritize pero kung meron naman kakayahan dito then we can help other communities also.

 

It was in that context that the conversation was held and unfortunately napulitika ito, for example just as a matter of statistics, out of the 2 billion pesos that passed through DILG to help local government units, cities and municipalities with reconstruction, 400 million went to Tacloban, a one-fifth of all funds of 171 LGUs went to Tacloban.

 

So hindi na pinagkait ito sa kanila, hindi na ipinagdamot sa kanila, dumating ito sa kanila in cash. Yan ang dumaan sa DILG, that much I can speak of, I know that Dinky will have her own statistics as to how many food packs, how many sacks of rice and so on and so forth.

 

So palagay ko hindi fair na parating kritisismo ay hindi dumating ang tulong o pinulitika ito but that was what we are just saying, sala sa init - sala sa lamig so ganyan talaga yan.

 

GLENDA GLORIA: Thanks for the brief course of crisis management but going back in relation to that secretary, they also say that leaders are sometime faced with very limited options and very limited time to act on certain things and I am personally curious… do you have any one major decision which you based on primarily on your gut feel or instincts, like my instincts told me I'm gonna do this and therefore I will make that decision?

 

MAR ROXAS: I will have to give that a good think, but basically instinct is always what's straight out, what's common sense, what's effective, that's basically my instinct whenever I'm confronted with a decision.

 

Zamboanga. I was in Malolos, Bulacan, I received a sketchy report in my cellphone that a number of these Muslims were caught with guns and with uniforms, with patches inside Zamboanga City. Two on two together there was a report of a fire fight out in Zamboanga bay with the navy. Instinct, there is something brewing here, this is all within the context that Misuari was making his caravans around Mindanao, instinct, I called up Secretary Volts, we don't know 2 + 2 = 5 ba ito or ano ba ito, puntahan natin, let's go with the front line.

 

True enough, when we got there putukan na, barilan na, bombahan, mortaran. So it's really instinctual to be there that got us there. Yolanda, just go back to Yolanda, it was instinct, we were at Aguinaldo, NDRRMC ang lakas nito, malakas ito you know all of the modeling on screens. My instinct is that the LGUs are not taking this seriously, even if they were, the way the forecasters are speaking this was really a 100 year event.

 

So kelan ba darating ang bagyo? Supposed to be 8:00 the next morning, this was like in the afternoon, Sec. Volts puntahan natin, siguraduhin natin. So we went and dun na kami for another 2 weeks.

 

So it's really, the instincts to get something done to be there. Just to continue with this thread, we were in Borongan Samar, the landfall was in a town North of Borongan, instinct puntahan natin because there was communication, nobody could tell the police, nobody could tell what was happening there.

 

Pumunta kami dun, hindi kami makalusot dahil nahulog yung mga telephone posts, electric posts, yung mga puno, nakikita ko naka motorsiklo, sinakyan ko yung motorsiklo, nahulog ako, yan ang lumabas sa media pero hindi lumabas na yung instinct ko ay puntahan itong bayan na ito na doon nag landfall si Ruby at kinailangan ng presensya at malaman ng Manila kung ano talaga ang kalagayan doon.

 

So my instinct is to take action, my instinct is to go and find out what can be done and actually do it.

 

GLENDA GLORIA: So what did your instinct tell you when you learned about Mamasapano?

 

MAR ROXAS: Well that's why we went the next day to find out what happened. We learned about it Sunday in the afternoon and so the very next morning we flew to Cotabato City to find out and....

 

GLENDA GLORIA: The instinct was not to ask the president?

 

MAR ROXAS: We were together the whole day eh, we were together in Zamboanga looking out after the bombing. The PNP had told me that there was an operation that day, wala naman, wala sa kaisipan ko na something was happening that day.

 

That morning I received a text from the intelligence officer of the PNP, Sunday morning about 7:00 I think that Marwan was killed in an operation and that extraction was going on. I passed this of to the President, I said you know that we might know this but I got this and I'm trying to find out more.

 

I asked the intelligence officer of the PNP, Director Calima, to find out more and to get back to me. No other officer was telling me that there was something going on. So I thought it was an ordinary course of business, an encounter and that was the end of that.

 

So meantime, the rest of the day we had focused in the bombing in Zamboanga City until during the course of the day 1st sketchy reports and finally confirmatory reports from the Tri-part observers that in fact there was an encounter, there was a high number of casualties which turned out later on to be 44 and that, this was all part of a plan to get Marwan.

 

After that the next day Sec. Volts and I flew to Cotabato to find out what was happening, what went wrong and the rest of it was, as we all discovered in the senate hearing.

 

MARIA RESSA: I know we'll go back to that, but let me pull it out and follow the first train Glenda started.  Which is really in the end, leadership of the Philippines will rely on the man, and you now have a track record that we look at.

 

Your critics point to moments of indecision at key times of historical impact, like at the time of President Gloria Arroyo when the Hyatt 10 came out, you sat on the fence. In key moments, your critics in DOTC or DILG say that it takes you time to make a decision. 

 

What do you say to this?

 

MAR ROXAS: I think that you know, by definition they're from critics so what do you what expect? During the time of President Gloria I served in her cabinet, the higher 10 have made a move, I kept quiet having just been elected in the senate, at that point the issues that they were raising was issues within the cabinet that I was not previewed to and so I remembered my statement at that time was all of this allegations was to be investigated and that the truth should come out.

 

Subsequently, I made my break with President Gloria. At the DOTC I think it is important to note that DOTC is involved in program and projects that stand 4-5 years, railways, roadways, airports, you don't by this off the shelf but if you are looking for decision making,I decided quite clearly for example Passenger Bill of Rights.

 

I didn't think it was right for airlines to just bump off passengers or cancel flights. So event if it was harmful to people who were operating this business, whom I knew, I said you cannot do this, in other countries passengers get compensated when their flights gets changed.

 

And that's what we put in placed. When I was in DOTC I decided quite clearly and firmly that I didn't want to have a repeat of the mega thousand death disasters with sea accidents or sea disasters or tragedies.

 

So I said, even if it will affect your business, signal #1 3 tons and below cannot go out anymore and signal #2 no matter what size of your vessel you cannot go anymore, so what if you lose 1 day's revenue, we're not gonna put our people at risk.

 

Those are decisions that I've made. We said No to the continuation of the anomalous strat contract and we started a bid for that, I decided after having studied it well that we were going to start the new Bohol airport, the new Puerto Princesa expansion and airport facilities and the new Bicol airport in Daraga, although there was an existing airport in Legaspi.

 

So maybe this critics don't understand that when you think of an airport project, it's not like let's go out and by an iPhone and let's go to the iStore and buy an, I mean an airport is a, by definition when you decide that you are gonna start an airport, chances are you are not going to be around until that, even to bid it out, or even to award the bid, or even having to see it constructed let alone completed.

 

Roadway the same, when Manny Pangilinan and Ramon Ang were fighting over the NLEX / SLEX connector, I decided and I sat both of them down separately and said you know we need to have this connectors built, so agreed with them that both of their projects would go through rather than have them mired in court and not have anything happen.

 

So Ramon Ang, San Miguel's project is going through, it's being built from SLEX, in Quirino, though Plaza Dilaw, Araneta Avenue, etc., all the way to NLEX and likewise Manny Pangilinan.

 

The fact that they're not yet finished is because it really takes years to built this elevated roadways but those decisions were made under my watch. So I...

 

MARIA RESSA: Let me say the spirit for this question and I'll explain it a little bit more, it's really that oftentimes a leader's greatest strength is also his or her greatest weakness. And in your case, your corporate background, your attention to detail, these are all strengths right?

 

And yet at the same time, at key moments, by looking at too many details, it may prevent you from making a critical decision. In the case of Yolanda, for example, reports came out that you asked for the numbers of the people who were there – counting the people – instead of actually bringing help immediately.

 

So things like these, the question for you is....

 

MAR ROXAS: I think, first from here, I will dispute the premise of your question...

 

MARIA RESSA: Okay

 

MAR ROXAS: At no time did I say "well how many people have been affected" clearly there were tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions right? The questions that...

 

MARIA RESSA: But the data gathering in the moment ... because a leader has to make decisions with imperfect information.

 

MAR ROXAS: Again I dispute that there was data gathering that was being done particularly in those early hours and days. The data gathering that was being done was how many tons of rice could be brought by C130 versus by ship versus by road, by land trip.

 

How many cars or vehicles are stuck in because they can not come through to Samar? I mean those are the kinds of decisions that have to be made, there was looking that was going on, how many policemen can we bring in from region 4, from Masbate, from Cebu, and other places to augment the policemen in Leyte and in Tacloban who are all victims out of nearly 200 policemen in Tacloban, 20 showed up.

 

So there's no time to say who was absent who was not, it was clearly let's bring in from the outside because no matter what the number is they're all victims and they're all attending to their families.

 

So they themselves may have died, nobody really new there was no communication, there was no cellphone, there was nothing, no power, no water, no life, there was really nothing.
So it was all, let's bring it as much as we can, as fast as we can.

 

MARIA RESSA: But you're saying that you haven't had these moments of indecision?

 

MAR ROXAS: I think so, I would really dispute, I mean one example Yolanda, you had to be there from the 1st hour and see what decision, we went immediately, even while the winds was still raging, Sec. Volts and I walked to city hall, that was a decision let's go and established a command center.

 

When we got to city hall there was nobody there, there was a few victims, there were few personnel, the so-called city disaster risk reduction was not functioning at city hall at that time, really there was nobody.

 

We went to the police station which was next door, we established a command post there, we could not talk to nobody there was no radio, there was no cellphone, what did we do? We scavenged for bicycles and sent out 2-3 policemen that were present, go to this place and go to that place and try to establish what's happening.

 

By mid afternoon, everything was really just at a standstill, not getting any reports, we said that there maybe a radio at the airport, let's walk to the airport. This are all decisions that we made at the heat of that morning and that was the same attitude that we had all through the first several weeks until things stabilized.

 

MARIA RESSA: Are there things about yourself as a leader that you will change now?

 

MAR ROXAS: I don't claim to be perfect, I'm sure that there are qualities that I can modify or reduce, there maybe other qualities that need to be exposed more. I'd been called impatient, well I think I'm just passionate, the jobs that I've had involved people, lives, futures and so I'm very passionate that this be paid attention to whatever this problems are, are paid attention to and not just keep down the road to have another person attend to them.

 

Sometimes my passion is misinterpreted to be suplado but I mean no ill-will, I'm just passionate and impatient for solutions and that's what drives me to push for exactly what's happening.

 

BEA CUPIN: I will start reading social media questions. About impatient, a lot if people are impatient over the FOI, I know in several media forums, interviews, people keep bringing that up. They are saying that parang malabo na parang you are pushing for anti-corruption and yet what happened to the FOI na? Parang that's what people are asking.

 

MAR ROXAS: Well I think Bea let's put first things first. We are for the FOI, the President is for the FOI, he has said that before at the end of his term he will passed it into law. I am committed to the FOI and for whatever reason it's not passed now, it's something that I would push should I become the President.

 

I am for the FOI, I am for transparency, it is a basic plank for Daang Matuwid. There are some provision that are problematic at the house of representatives but I assume that this will all get sorted out but having said that I think that it's also fair to the administration, to Daang Matuwid to say while we are waiting for FOI to be passed into law, Daang Matuwid has undertaken many many steps, having the budget online, removing lump sums and itemizing the entire general appropriations bill and so on and so forth no, I mean we have many many steps that embody the transparency value that is underpinning the FOI Bill.

 

So in fact was it the World Bank or some other international institution has a judged passed as one of the most transparent and with full access to information governments relative to all the other governments that they survey.

 

So yes FOI is important but just because it does not pass into law it does not mean that we have not been transparent and we have not taken substantive steps for and towards transparency.

 

GLENDA GLORIA: Will you pass it under Roxas presidency?

 

MAR ROXAS: I am committed to the FOI.

 

BEA CUPIN: There is another question from social media. How different are you from PNoy and what do you think are the missed opportunities during PNoy's term and what will you do, is it to early to ask?

 

MAR ROXAS: I think it's easy to go 20/20 hindsight but let me say this, think that PNoy addressed the problems of 2010 but the problems of 2016 are going to be different. PNoy had to re-institute any of the transparency and good governance principles in the institutions themselves that were destroyed by the previous administrations diba?

 

Contracts had to be cut or agreements had to be rescinded, the Laguna lake where PNoy calls just playing with mud, 14 billion pesos moving mud from part of Laguna lake to another. In my department at the DOTC there was the GMA steel ports that they had bought the steel but have not yet even decided on what ports and what the locations where for where these ports would be.

 

So there was a lot of house cleaning to do, these were generations worth of problems and we had, there was a lot of time and attention necessary to correct all of this things. The problem for 2016 would be building on these games, making sure that whatever inclusive growth have been there is fortified and magnified and accelerated.

 

So we are looking at a bibingka approach na may init sa taas at may init sa baba so it's not just Macro sa taas na if you build it the jobs and incomes will come but we're doing it with affirmative action direct at the family level so that in fact that the people and families can realize their hopes for themselves.

 

Classrooms are being built, education is being fortified, this is very very critical including science and technology, it's very critical for the future because advances in science do not stop eh and so what were once secure jobs may because of science and technology became vulnerable to change or vulnerable to migration to other countries.

 

I'll give you an example, here is a strategic threat for the IT / BPO Call Center industry, artificial intelligence, there are many many task but because of artificial intelligence can be automated and will no longer require a human to sit behind that console with a headset talking right?

 

The simplest case would be directory assistance, it is now a computer generated voice that answers as suppose to a human being. So we need to keep investing in education, we start moving up the value chain, we bit the bullet on K-12, aligning our education system with the rest of the world that way our nurses, our marniners, our doctors, our physical therapist are not disadvantaged because when they look at the curriculum vitae, the Indonesian gets 12 years of preparatory education, the Filipino only 10 years, even if both are board passers they are starting to be a discrimination against us because precisely they have more years of education.

 

So by doing K-12 we are able to equalize that and continue to provide opportunity for our people and for our workers and so these are the kinds of things that has been done for the last 5 years of president PNoy into his 6th year and which we want to continue under Daang Matuwid.

 

Nobody is saying that it's perfect, walang nag sasabi na narating na natin ang paraiso but palagay ko naman na malayo na ang narating natin at mas malayo pa mang mararating natin kung itutuloy natin ito, imbes na bumalik nalang tayo sa square one, kumbaga mag reset at baka iba nanaman ang tatahakin nating landas.

 

GLENDA GLORIA: Let's go to very specific events now secretary, there are reports actually that the INC is again planning a mass mobilization this weekend and with that context in mind, I'm curious will you still ask the Iglesia support in the 2016 race?

 

MAR ROXAS: I'm not aware of this, I'm no longer in DILG and I have not heard that. For them to have mass action is not necessarily bad, I mean any citizen, any group there are mass actions that are happening in all across the country at any given time.

 

GLENDA GLORIA: Will you ask for their support?

 

MAR ROXAS: Why not? I mean I want to lead this country, I'd like to start the consensus building effort even before winning the position.

 

GLENDA GLORIA: Of course we gathered information for example that the Iglesia is very deeply entrenched in the Quezon City police district, at the time that you were DILG chief did you ever receive similar information about how well the Iglesia is to a point that they can actually cut corners as far as police issues are concerned?

 

MAR ROXAS: Wala naman, there are always these rumors like for example I chose, the former QCPD head General Albano because they were not delivering on Lambat-Sibat performance I relieved and replaced him with his deputy General Pagdilao who continued to deliver, who began delivering reduced crime rates in Quezon City.

 

GLENDA GLORIA: So it's not true that he’s an Iglesia lackey?

 

MAR ROXAS: I, nobody came to me to say na ilagay mo si Pagdilao sa QCPD, I just thought that he had the, he was the one who was working on it as deputy to General Albano and so I placed him there with no guarantees if he wasn't delivering the numbers, you know let me just talk about Lambat-Sibat, I remember to send it to you here right?

 

From 918 incidents per week, by the time I presented it to you here we were at 500, this is about a year ago, today we are at 280 incidents a week. So there's nearly 700 Filipinos, every week na nailayo natin sa kapahamakan right?

 

And that's across the board, Manila, Quezon City, Mandaluyong, etc., SPD, DWPD, EPD, lahat. Is there still a crime? Yes, just by that very statistic there is still 300 incidents per week but this is certainly a third of what it was when we started this in June of 2014.

 

So this are the advances, this are the metrics that I used in promoting and moving people around, if for example you could not ensure that the statistics that were being reported were in fact brought to base, then we relieved you whether you were chief of police level or regional director, district director level.

 

And those are the metrics that I have used and I think that the police leadership responded to that and that's why until now they have the regular Lambat-Sibat meetings and until now it's very very focused in reducing crime and catching the most wanted people.

 

GLENDA GLORIA: Can we implement the same, in a matter of speaking, in terms of addressing this monster in Metro Manila, traffic? What specific solutions do you have in mind and what solutions have changed, have failed, what do you think should be done immediately, for example discouraging car owners from purchasing, do you have very specific...

 

MAR ROXAS: You know there'd be many studies about traffic in Metro Manila but here's what, you know it's really, first to de-congest right? And then to fix the, I'll explain each one, to decongest, to fix the franchise system and some discipline as well.

 

What is decongestment, well the NLEX / SLEX connectors that I talked about will decongest Edsa for example, will decongest Quirino, will decongest Roxas Boulevard, will decongest our streets from all of the tractor trailers that comes out of the ports because they would be now using the elevated roadways.

 

So that's going to need some help right? But that's not going to be long term because every year there are 300,000 that are added to the population of our vehicles in the country, most of that 80% of it are Metro Manila or in the nearby provinces.

 

By the way when I was DTI 60,000 vehicles a year was like a big year, now we are hitting 300,000 a year. So that's the thing, additional construction of these roadways will decongest. Second, I will change the franchise system of the buses, there are no modern metropolis in the world that has buses owned by multiple private entities.

 

What happens? The competitions for passengers in fact served to create traffic jams because the bus at the rear, takes up a lane to over take the bus that is loading now so that he can get to the passengers immediately at the next stop and the one behind likewise takes another lane to the same to stop further down.

 

Why is that? They have different balance sheets eh, they're different entities. So I would just collapse all of these franchises and bid it out, I would bid it out, I would say we need on Edsa, I don't know, whatever, 200 buses, 300 buses, the specs are they must be LNG so there's no spewing of diesel, second they must be no more than 5 years old in any given time, on it's 5th year you have to retire it, move it to the province or send it to Vietnam or whatever it is.

 

Number 3 your drivers must be paid a fixed wage so that they are not competing for the passengers right? I'm sure there are other elements to that deed, you bid that out in effect you will have a single lane of buses like in all other cities whether it is in Japan, Singapore or any other place, you have buses disciplined and you have the lanes left for the other vehicles and then the last element will be discipline.

 

I note that there's been, I don't know let me ask you, has there been some palpable difference in traffic patterns, that's just from Edsa, since the HPG took over.

 

GLENDA GLORIA: For foremost yeah, the HPG...

 

MAR ROXAS: So there's more discipline. I think that, you know it used to take me an hour and a half to get from the airport to my house, it takes me 40 minutes now. I don't know whether that's just unique in one particular day but I think that there's been more free flowing of traffic over the last several weeks, maybe the drivers are more afraid of HPG, well that's good, maybe they are more disciplined, maybe they follow the rules more, they stay in lane more.

 

What's important here is that we realized traffic is always gonna be a problem, I mean, anytime that you have growth and development, anytime that your interest rates at 5-8% and for next to nothing you can actually go out and buy a car for 300,000 pesos, you know this is an aspiration in most people that they want to have a car or vehicle.

 

So in any grown metropolis traffic is going to be a problem, so it's government's job to create more infrastructure, elevated as it may be, to improve mass transit, to impose discipline and to certainly to rearrange the rules and regulation such as in franchises so that you have a disciplined bus service as opposed to each bus rushing to the next bus stop to compete for passengers. Specific enough for you Gloria?

 

MARIA RESSA: I wanna take you out globally now, I mean it's a far more complicated world you have, what do you consider the biggest threat in the geopolitical economic landscape?

 

MAR ROXAS: There will be increasing competition between the U.S and China, I think that is a given, it would be fought in the West Philippine Sea but it will also be fought in other form, WTA, Global warming conferences, regulations as to limit the spewing forth of pollutants in the air and so on and so forth.

 

So that's one dynamic that will continue to be present, second would be fight for resources, when I was in high school, that's a long time ago, I remembered our socio economic class there was like 4 billion people on earth, it's now 7 billion well on it's way to 8 billion, doble, the earth has not, I mean it is the same amount of hectarage, the same sees and the oceans and the same resources.

 

So you have twice the number of people that have to feed of the same, so resources, minerals, food, water, clean water is going to be a major issue in a fight for those resources, going in a competition for those resources, hopefully doesn't evolve into a fight, competition will become quite intense.

 

I think that the impact of global warming is going to have substantial effect on us, unfortunately we are not the cause of that problem, we contribute very very little to that problem, unfortunately the impact of that problem is fought very much by us because of changing weather patterns, you know we have 25 storms every year and you can see by the intensity of it, by the strength of the usual habagat, I mean the torrential rains that come from habagat is really quite severe and then all of a sudden switched to El Niño, drought.

 

So we’re going to be feeling the impact of climate change even if we are a very small contributor to the problem. These are some of the global patterns, increased fundamentalism in the Muslim worlds, that's something that we have to be very very careful about and that's why it's very important that the peace in Mindanao is secured as early as possible so that we don't, precisely we don't enter that fear where the ISIS and the more fundamentalist and the more extremist take route here in our country. So these are some of the patterns that I see in the global...

 

MARIA RESSA: Would you do anything differently in the South China Sea or the West Philippine Sea?

 

MAR ROXAS: I would, I think our options are quite limited by our being militarily smaller and weaker than China, I mean we cannot hit them over the head with a club and so really, it's really to go through the United Nations, to go through in close, make a claim and ask for arbitration which is what we did, we have to be very active in securing multi national support for our efforts, I'm glad that the other countries are also echoing the same sentiment about the aggressiveness of China in the West Philippine Sea and I'm also quite glad that the U.S is now making some definite moves to have it's presence particularly in the freedom of navigation aspect front in the area.

 

MARIA RESSA: Three top issues that you would address in your first 100 days if you win?

 

MAR ROXAS: I think that's, all the issues are, you know how can you say that an issue of feeding our people is more important than corruption or is more important than education. I think that filling the cabinet with competent, honest people, making sure that we are all aligned that it's the people's interest and that the metric, I'm defining the metric as the Filipino family.

 

Not all this GDP, those are all very important, don't get me wrong, those are all very important but at the end of the day what does it mean to the Filipino family? Do they have a steady job, can they borrow more, is their health care more affordable, do their kids have an opportunity to finish an education, is their livelihood hanap buhay for the family, is there security in their home, are they free of fear from calamitous event, I think that by focusing it on the family we will make government much more relevant to the average person.

 

So those are things that I would be focusing on, all the rest of it, adjust programs to make that happen, programs and projects to make that happen. What are some of this programs and projects? I think that we can have a revival, we ought to have and we need to have a revival in the agriculture sector, 1/3 of our people are depended in agriculture but it only produces about 12% of our GDP, that means that the slice of that pizza pie of our agriculture is very very thin and yet there is so many people that are dependent on it.

 

Translation they are poor, mahirap ang buhay. So we need to have a resurgence in agriculture, we need to find a way of having a consolidation so that there are economies of scale so that they are not buying fertilizer by the scoop, that they are buying fertilizer and pesticides and seeds, certified seeds, at bulk prices rather than tingi prices, that they have access to market, that they have access to credit.

 

All of these things, market access, credit access, bulk buying or home sale price for factor inputs cannot happen if you are a one hectare family farm, they can continue to own the land but there must be a way either through joint venture, leasing, cooperatives of creating scale so that we're looking at 100 hectares, 200 hectares so that there's mechanization, there's buying of factor inputs, maramihan imbes na tinge, mas mura kung maramihan eh.

 

I think that they can be a real resurgence and sort of a whole dynamism in agriculture by finding that. 20% of the crop, 20% of what is palay or corn is lost after harvest because of dull blades in the threshold, because of it's drying in the street rather than through mechanized drying, because it's sako-sako rather than through the massive bulk handling.

 

Every time that sako-sako is passed from one shoulder to the other there's a few pieces of corn or palay that fall by the way side and all of theses things have to reduce the income of the farmer and here is another example, repolyo in Baguio without storm, regular times is maybe 10-12 pesos a kilo, how come it becomes 35 pesos a kilo 3 hours later when it gets to Farmers Market?

 

That's just the inefficiency of the logistics supply chain, the farmers don't benefit, the consumers don't benefit, it's the traders that 4 of 5 hands na dinadaanan nitong produktong to, in between that benefit from business. So these are the ways that farmers can get more income and benefit consumers.

 

So these are things, all of these are equally important, I don't wanna say the top 3 things or the, because all of these are equally important, the thing is to choose cabinet members that have a very very clear sort of guidance that this is how we are gonna measure success, how it affects the Filipino family, that each family is given the opportunity, pagkakataon sa bawat pamilya that whatever their dreams are are attainable.

 

GLENDA GLORIA: Secretary there's a related question from the crowd, sapat na ba ang nagawa ng food securities S.A.R at itutuloy nyo ba ang existence ng position na ito kahit na madami nagsasabi na ito ay redundant?

 

MAR ROXAS: Siguro yung solution na food security S.A.R in addition to the department of agriculture secretary ay kinailangan nung kapanahunang yun, nagkaroon tayo ng cocoly sap infestation, I mean maraming mga hamon eh, so other than the regular programs siguro kinailangan ng dagdag na mata, dagdag na attention, dagdag na attention, dagdag na manager para matingnan ito.

 

Pag na stabilized naman siguro ang sitwasyon ay babalik tayo sa regular na iisa ang department of agriculture, without prejudice na at any given time, halimbawa lumala yung drought dito sa atin, yung El Niño, why not have somebody that pulls in different disciplines, makes sure that there is coordination that the department are not operating in silos, if that's necessary then we should be always be open to it but it should not be, parang permanent in that sense because precisely we don't want duplication and we don’t want agawan ng eksena.

 

BEA CUPIN: Agriculture, hunger, poverty, transpo, that's only some of the issues that you and your cabinet, should you win, will have to solve. Given that your campaign is hinged on the promise of continuity, continuing Daang Matuwid is that mean people can expect you to a point that the same people in the cabinet retain the cabinet?

 

MAR ROXAS: Well, you know almost to a man or to a person, the cabinet members have all said, na they'd like to go back to the private sector, many of them have been in government for 5 years if not longer and so medyo, one of them said bugbog na yung savings account ko so alay na kami ng misis ko.

 

So I would, I think that its just safe to assume that you are going to have a fresh new set of faces, many if not all, all have expressed the desire to go back to private sector, they would have been with PNoy in the public sector for the last 6 years if not longer.

 

BEA CUPIN: Sir I know you mentioned yung interaction I think , TV5, you said you are presumptuous to name names at this point for the cabinet but don't you think it's something you should already be thinking about even as we start campaigning in 2016?

 

MAR ROXAS: You know I've never had difficulty recruiting good people, I was slated for one job, Secretary Ping De Jesus resigns, in essence kailangan ka dun, different set of disciplines, different set of needs, I won't mention names but Stanford MBA, Ateneo Law School had his own business na recruit natin, top litigator from one of the top white shoe law firms in our country to make sure that the contracts are in good place na recruit natin.

 

I think it's easy to recruit good people with integrity and credibility kung nakikita nila na matino ka rin, hindi mo sila dadalhin sa alangain, hindi mo sila pipilitin na mag sinungaling o mag cover up, tatantsahin ka rin nila eh, titimbangin ka rin nila, eto ba ay malalagay ako sa alanganin, mapapahiya ba ako rito, yung mga anak ko na nagaaral kakantsawan ba ng mga klaklase nila na magnanakaw, ganito, ganun.

 

So titingnan ka rin nila kung maatas ang kredibilidad mo ay papasok din naman sila. So I never had difficulty recruiting good people, credible people, competent people, people with experience kasi hindi mo naman gusto, hindi niya, wala siyang karanasan sa pagmamanage, wala siyang, you know manage, simply, I'd give an example Glenda just to go back to the earlier question, dumaan dito si Lando right? So maraming tumatawag na tulong tulong ganun, so marami namang nagvovolunteer papaano kami tutulong, o sige gumawa tayo ng food pack relief, just the sequencing and knowing what should come first is very important.

 

Dumating ang bigas, dumating ang dilata walang plastik so hindi ka makakilos kasi san mo ililipat at ipapackage at things like that. I’m just showing you that management is not something that should just be diminished, even knowing the sequence in what steps to take is quite important because kung hindi, urong sulong, you know hurry up, wait, hurry up.

 

I think that it's quite important that we are able to attract credible people, people with integrity, people with experience who have handled massive scale projects because that's exactly what is needed in government,

 

GLENDA GLORIA: And you wouldn't mind appointing friends?

 

MAR ROXAS: No I mean, I don't think it's an automatic disqualification, I think what would be an automatic disqualification would be a vested interest, if they engage in the business, if they engage in that activity that is an automatic disqualification.


 

GLENDA GLORIA: Have you decided against a friend or a relative?


 

MAR ROXAS: I believe so...

 

GLENDA GLORIA: But you actually don't remember?


 

MAR ROXAS: No, I choose not to, here's something specific, you might wonder that though I am credited in being the father of the Call Center / IT Industry, how come Cubao, my family's real estate development, is only now over the last 2-3 years getting into call centers and IT, what happened Glenda that when I was DTI Secretary and was starting this entire promotion, I did not allow my family to bid for PEZA accreditation.


 

So that's a clear, you asked ah I'm not making that yabang no, when I resigned from Erap they asked me, I resigned November 1, they asked me December pwede na ba kami mag apply? 

Because at that time sila Andrew Tan of Megaworld were already dito in Libis diba? I mean, wala na ako sa gobyerno sabi ko pwede na, na recruit tayo ni GMA in January, o, withdraw all your applications.


 

Hindi ko gusto ko na sasabihin ng tao na prinomote ko itong call center / IT / BPO industry dahil pampuno ng office space sa Cubao diba? So ngayon nalang over the last 2-3 years nung wala na ako sa DTI, wala na akong kinalaman sa industriya na sila ay pumasok sa industriya.


 

GLENDA GLORIA: Talking about relative or friends, you are a friend of the President and certainly are..


 

MAR ROXAS: I hope you accept with that

 

GLENDA GLORIA: I'm sure you have disagreed with him?


 

MAR ROXAS: Yeah


 

GLENDA GLORIA: Can you name one?

 

MAR ROXAS: I think that as among friends sa amin nalang yun diba? I think that we both...


 

GLENDA GLORIA: As among public officials, you’re running for president now and we'd like to know...


 

MAR ROXAS: I would disagree maybe have been emphasis, may have been in timing but not on principle, we have had no disagreements on principle, there is no...


 

GLENDA GLORIA: Did you disagree in Mamasapano?


 

MAR ROXAS: It was difficult to disagree because...

 

GLENDA GLORIA: You did not know?


 

MAR ROXAS: Purisima did not diba? The first event assumed regularity, para sa Pangulo inutos niya, sabihan mo ito, iinform mo sila, tama lang naman na i-assume nila na yung utos niya ay susundin ng four star general niya.


 

Noong itinago sa amin diba? I think that is well established in all the hearings. So there is no disagreement there, is Marwan a valid target? Yes, I mean how many people died and...


 

MARIA RESSA: Perhaps not at that time, that is a critical moment for the BBL was it?


 

MAR ROXAS: I think that the law enforcement aspect just has it's own dynamic...


 

MARIA RESSA: So were you angry? 


 

MAR ROXAS: I mean the truth is it crossed my mind that what happened? How come I did not.. There was no clear sort of getting, being made part of the loop but it would be purely egoistical in my part it would just be ano na hurt ako? Ano political act? I mean the countries in crisis, PNoy his leadership we have to maintain security, the PNP itself needed a stabilizing element, I mean I told the President that if he had no more confidence, he had my resignation and would not, hindi ako magiging, I said it as a friend na hindi ako magiging problema o sagabal kung gusto niya magkaroon ng pagbabago but in the meantime I was going to focus on what is important which was to attend to the families, to attend to the PNP, to make sure that the security state situation remained stabilized...

 

GLENDA GLORIA: So you did offer to quit?

 

MAR ROXAS: Yeah, I talked to him in...

 

GLENDA GLORIA: And the President....

 

MAR ROXAS: Said no, no, it has nothing to do with that. He said that I assumed alam nito lahat, hindi naman sinabi sa akin.

 

GLENDA GLORIA: I wanna ask this regarding Korina because of course she is an influential personality, what role does she play in your campaign and what would be a First Lady Korina Sanchez?

 

MAR ROXAS: First of all she won't be in government it's a big sacrifice for her, I asked her to make that sacrifice, she had to put her career on hold I mean Maria was present and was, the last time I ran to public office she had to stop her career no, when Maria was still in ABS-CBN and likewise and then now I would expect not from word that we win it becomes permanent her suspension, or not suspend, her stopping her career as a journalist would be longer term no, ahm.



 

GLENDA GLORIA: And during the campaign that she…?

 



MAR ROXAS: Sometimes she went see, sometimes she represents me if I am unable to make it but, clearly it's for functions where policy and the, is not discuss.



 

MARIA RESSA: Last question about these elections now, mean you said everyone is different now, that President Aquino run for the 2010 elections, this one you have COMELEC says an estimated 39 million youth voters, how will you run your campaign differently for this elections, what's different now? what's this electorate like what you did before?



 

MAR ROXAS: Maria naman, why will I tell you our tactics or strategy, [laughing].



 

MARIA RESSA: [Laughing] but i guess how do you see the Filipino voter now? what's change?

 



MAR ROXAS: Well, well much more educated, much worldly, much more tuned to not just parochial matters but really broader matters that affect communities or societies, but the end of the day they also very concerned what happens to their family no, I mean that's very very basic, and that's why we really focus Daang Matuwid sa pamilyang Pilipino, its really that's the metric and that way there is no, if you build it they will come, or if you build it, it will trickle down no, we focus of this gonna be affirmative action, President Pnoy has started that in ahm, with this Pantawid Pamilya, with this Phil Health, with BUB (Bottom UP Budgeting) so that each, each community is assured of a minimum level of the development, we're going to expand on that, And I think, again no, na wala na bang kahirapan sa atin, hindi marami paring mahirap no, pero palagay ko kung dati rati nandito yung tubig, medyo nandito no.

I mean malayo pa ang, amrami pa dapat na mangyari no, pero meron namang kaginhawaan na naihatid dito no, halimbawa just to go back to the syntaxes no, the president took a stand there against very very powerful lobbies, the tobacco lobby, the beer lobby, the alcohol lobby, president took a very courageous stand there, and push it oh what's the translation of that?, there's 75 billion pesos that now remains in peoples pocket , because it is now Phil Health that pays for those medical expenses every year no.

Now naiwan ba yan sa bulsa nila? hindi dahil ginastos din yan sa iba pangpangangailangan diba, kung dati rati ay kinailangan yan para bilhin ang gamot, para ibayad sa Doctor, para ibayad sa dextrose, ngayon magagamit nila sa iba pa nilang pangangailangan dahil sinagot na ng gobyerno yung 75 Billion pesos na gastusin sa pag galing ng kanilang mga kamag-anakan no, so yan ang mga naihatid ng Daang Matuwid, ni Pangulong Pnoy nitong mga nakraang taon hanggang sa katapusan ng kanyang termino.

At yan din naman ang pin-presenta namin ni Leni na itutuloy namin ang ganitong uri ng pamamhala na kung saan kayo ang boss no, I mean this in a just words or parang isinisigaw na parang walang saysay, kayo ang boss ano ba yung, para sa english kasi nag i-englishan tayo kanina? kayo ang boss government for off and by the people diba ang bibg sabihin na kayo ang boss mangingibabaw ang interes niyo higit sa lahat, kayo ang gumawa nito, bibg sabihin consensus, united na nagtungo tayo sa isang direction, kung walang kurap, walang mahirap, malinis, tapat, hayag.

 

- Rappler.com