Roxas' pitch to Mindanao: Aquino admin valued you the most
DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The full force of the administration and its allies continued their pitch for its standard bearer, outgoing interior secretary Manuel Roxas II, during an event here on Wednesday, September 9.
President Benigno Aquino III, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, Mindanao Development Authority Secretary Secretary Luwalhati Antonino, and Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Teresita Quintos-Deles were among the key Cabinet officials present during a “Gathering of Friends” in the city.
Speaking before a crowd of yellow on Wednesday, Roxas said that unlike administrations of the past, it was Aquino who poured the most money in the oft-neglected island region of Mindanao.
In Aquino’s five years as president, said Roxas, some P260 billion in capital outlay was devoted to Mindanao, a stark contrast to the P25 billion during former president Joseph Ejercito Estrada’s short-lived presidency and P130 billion during Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s 9 years as president.
“Wala nang mas malinaw pa. Wala nang mas kongkreto pang paraan para patunayan ang kahalagaan ng Mindanao sa mata ni Pangulong PNoy (It’s clear. There is no more concrete way of showing how important Mindanao is to President Aquino),” the Liberal Party president-on-leave said.
The gathering was the Mindanao leg in a series of sorties which began with Aquino’s endorsement of Roxas in Club Filipino on July 31. Politicians from different provinces and cities in Mindanao, civil society, and beneficiaries of the government’s programs filed a huge hall in the SMX Davao Convention Center.
Scattered around the venue were two banners – one thanking Aquino for the gains of the past 5 years and another in support of the administration bet.
Why Mar Roxas?
Whenever the administration “gathers” its friends, the message of good governance, reforms, continuity, and certainty is unchanged. In his speech, Aquino spoke about Roxas’ track record an experience as Cabinet Secretary and during his time in Congress.
The President, in particular, highlighted the year 2009 when Roxas, who had already been nominated as the LP’s standard-bearer, slid down at the last minute to make way for Aquino.
“Nagsalita ang taumbayan, hiniling tayo. Ako ba pinilit ko si Mar? Ako ba, di ba, kung ano ang ginawa namin para magbigay siya? Hindi ho. Kusang-loob siya ang nagpasimuno na ito ang tawag ng sambayanan. Ambisyon kong personal, puwedeng isantabi para sa bayan. At talagang nagbigay nga ho sa atin si Mar, di ho ba,” said Aquino. (READ: Mar Roxas: The long road to endorsement)
(The country spoke: they wanted me to run instead. Did I force Mar to slide down? Did I do anything to force him to slide down? That didn’t happen. He willingly gave way to the voice of the majority. He sacrificed his personal ambition. And true enough, Mar gave way for me, didn’t he?)
Aquino went on to recount Roxas’ performance in many of the administration’s biggest crises in 2013: the Bohol earthquake, the Zamboanga siege, and Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). Ironically, the latter two are issues Roxas’ critics are expected to use against the admin bet, over his alleged incompetency in handling them.
The administration was criticized heavily for its alleged shortcomings in both the Zamboanga and Yolanda crises.
The problem of Mindanao
Although the cheers were loud and the chants, strong, Davao and Davao del Sur not strong-holds of Roxas. He lost in both the city and the province to former Makati mayor Jejomar Binay during the 2010 vice presidential elections.
Binay got over a little over half of the votes in the province during the 2010 while Roxas got roughly a third of votes.
Two other presumptive presidential bets also lord it over in the province. Neophyte senator Grace Poe, the front-runner in June presidential preference surveys, also led the senatorial race in the province in 2013.
Davao city, is of course, the bailiwick of Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who recently announced he would not be running for a national post in 2016.
For Aquino, the answer to “Why Mar Roxas” is simple: he is the only person who can continue the gains he started. The message of continuity of the “Daang Matuwid (Straight Path),” the Aquino government’s tagline for its transparency, good governance, and anti-corruption platform, is at front and center of Roxas’ 2016 campaign.
“Next year, sinasabi ko nga paulit-ulit, referendum. Ano ba ‘yung referendum? Gusto ba n’yo ang napala natin sa loob nitong magiging anim na taon? Palagay ho ba ninyo nalampasan na natin ‘yung inasam-asam natin noong tayo’y nag-umpisa sa pagtahak ng Tuwid na Daan? Kung ang sagot po doon ay oo, sino ho ba ang magpapatuloy dito?” said Aquino.
(I always say this: the next elections is a referendum. What’s a referendum. You’ll have to answer: Do you like what we achieve in the past 5 years? Do you think we’ve hit the goals we set when we first began the journey along the Straight Path? If your answer is yes, then who should continue what we started?)
In a speech filled with jokes – including both the inside and self-deprecating kind – Aquino turned serious when he asked for the help of the crowd to assure victory for his anointed candidate.
Before enumerating a list of the government’s gains in providing a safety net for the country’s poor, universal health care, education, and infrastructure, Aquino said: “Dito ho, ‘wag na tayong magkumbinsihan. Palagay ko kumbinsido na tayo. Hanapin natin ‘yung hindi pa kumbinsido (We don’t need to convince each other here. I think we’re all convinced. Instead, let’s look for those who remain unconvinced.)” – Rappler.com
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