By Hannah Torregoza
Former Senator Manuel “Mar” Roxas said he was willing to work with the Duterte administration, especially if he could contribute to boosting the country’s economy to greater heights.
Roxas, who is seeking a comeback in the Senate, said that while he could have chosen to retire from politics, his dream for the country to rise above poverty still ran deep.
The former presidential candidate is running for senator in the upcoming May 2019 midterm elections under the Oposisyon Koalisyon (opposition coalition) slate. A Liberal Party stalwart, Roxas ran but lost to then Davao City Mayor, and now President Rodrigo Duterte, in the May 2016 elections.
Roxas decided to keep a low profile following the rigorous presidential campaign until he announced last year that he was open to running again for a Senate seat as part of the opposition slate.
But Roxas, who used to head the Senate committees on trade and commerce and economic affairs, said he was also ready to work with the Duterte administration especially in the area of trade and economy, should he win a fresh term in the Senate.
“Ang akin, mag-contribute ako, lalong-lalo na sa ekonomiya. Dun ako makakatulong, dun ako makaka-contribute, (To me, my aim is to contribute, especially in our economy. That’s one area I can help, I can contribute),” Roxas said in a recent interview over Radio DZMM.
The former Interior secretary noted that for the past two years, many Filipinos continued to be mired in poverty.
“Talagang naramdaman ko yung unfairness of it all. Kahit kayod ka ng kaod, wala kang napapala, wala mai-drawing or mai-spelling, sa anak mo kung saan kayo makakarating sa kabila ng taon-taon na pagkayod. At ito’y talagang nakakalungkot (I can feel the unfairness of it all. Even though you work hard, you get nothing, you cannot even tell your children where your family is going every year you work hard. This is really saddening),” Roxas said.
“So ito’y napagisipan ko, meron pa naman akong ma-contribute, meron naman akong karanasan sa economy, may karanasan ako lalong lalo na sa paglikha ng trabaho, sa pagbaba ng presyo, sa pag ayos ng sweldo at kita. So bakit ko ipagkakait ito? (So I thought hard, I still have something to contribute, since I have an experience in dealing with economy. I’ve had experience in creating jobs, lowering the prices of goods and commodities, and fixing salaries and income. So why will I withhold the experience I’ve got?),” he pointed out.
Roxas said his track record would show that he was able to effectively work well with past administrations. For instance, he supported former President Fidel V. Ramos’ administration even though he campaigned for Jovito Salonga, saying Ramos supported him with the passage into law of the Fair and Equitable Access to Education.
“Whether it was (former president) Erap (Joseph Estrada), (former) President Gloria (Macapagal-Arroyo), of course, President PNoy (President Benigno Aquino III)—my track record is that I am a positive contributor,”
“Ang gusto ko makatulong, nais ko makaahon an gating bansa…hindi ko tanggap na ang Pilipinas parating sick man of Asia, parating may nangyayari or hindi makasabay sa mga iba’t ibang karatig bansa na mas mabilis ang pag-unlad (I want to help, I want our country to rise again…I cannot accept that the Philippines would always be the sick man of Asia; where there is always something bad happening or that our country cannot keep up with neighboring countries in terms of development),” Roxas said.
Despite the discord between him and President Duterte, Roxas said he supports some of the administration’s policies especially its bid to increase excise tax on tobacco products to fund the Universal Health Care program.
“Pabor ako diyan. Kasi nakikita ko na malaking tulong niyan (I am in favor of that. Precisely because I can really see that would greatly help sustain the program),” Roxas said.