Mar Roxas gives way to Noynoy Aquino: The Beautiful and Not So Beautiful Truth

Courtesy: Liberal Party Website (file photo)

The rumor had spread like wildfire even before the announcement was made, and there were debates if it would really happen.  But it did.  Senator Mar Roxas has thrown his support to fellow Senator Noynoy Aquino should he run for the presidency. Mar Roxas has kissed his ambitions for the presidency, at least for now.

Many, of course, were surprised with this development.  Mar had been the presumptive candidate of the Liberal Party, and was one more popular presidential aspirants.

Another Doy Laurel?

His colleagues from the LP and other sectors are now painting him as another Doy Laurel (who, ironically is a Nacionalista), who gave up his own ambition to become president to give way to Noynoy’s mother, Cory.

There may be some truth to this, but I am also weighing in other factors.

Poor Performer

A truth to consider is that Mar Roxas did not perform in the surveys.  He did not top any of the surveys since 2007.  Whether his team admits it or not, his “padyak” campaign did more harm to him than any good.  And it was really futile to rely on his Mr. Palengke image, which gave him the top slot in the 2004 senatorial race.

Let me show you a chart from the Social Weather Stations website, lifted from the media/public releases section of their website:

Take a look at Mar Roxas numbers
Take a look at Mar Roxas' numbers / (courtesy: SWS)

Some analysts and seasoned media practitioners would also argue that Mar had gained notoriety for having a sound bite on any and every issue.  Some people just found it too much and compared him to someone who made “saw-saw” in any issue.  His providing help for the victims of the Legacy Group, while it is very noble, was not perceived to be genuinely sincere. ***

Of course, factor in to Roxas’ drop in popularity, the instant surge in Noynoy’s popularity, especially following the passing of former President Corazon Aquino.  This may be in poor taste, but it’s true.  The continuous coverage has brought unprecedented attention on Noynoy — something that so many other president-wannabes are salivating to have even just a piece of.

Let us see if Noynoy’s camp would be able to sustain interest in Noynoy after the nation marks the 40th day of Cory’s death.

Party Support

Roxas himself said that he was giving way to preserve unity in the party.  Definitely, Roxas would also not dare split the party, which his grandfather, the late President Manuel Roxas founded, and which his father, the late Sen. Gerry Roxas belonged to.

It has been apparent in the last few days that party members and stalwarts were changing loyalties and were pushing for Noynoy.  Mar realizes himself that he would need nothing less than full party support from the Liberal Party to be successful.  It would be difficult to wage a nationwide campaign without financial and grassroots support.

The Bright Side

Still, Noynoy is not out of the race for the presidency.  He can still run in 2016.  And certainly, he is now a stronger contender for the Vice Presidency.  Even then Senator Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo needed to be practical by running for Vice President in 1998, as she knew that she was no match to Erap. By giving way, Mar has given his campaign a needed strong shot in the arm — at least for the vice presidency.  More people will respect him after tonight.  Needed pogi points for him, indeed.

Party Unity

Roxas’ decision has definitely saved the LP from any further internal rifts.  It certainly prevented any rift between the pro-Roxas and pro-Aquino forces.  A lesser force to contend with, Sen. Kiko Pangilinan, who has ambitions for 2010, has himself said that he would throw his support behind Noynoy.  We will also see in the next few weeks or months if Roxas’ decision would mean reunification between the LP and its dismissed members, particularly those who have sided with Sec. Lito Atienza, who once headed the pro-Gloria Atienza wing of the LP (which later on was not recognized by the Supreme Court.)

Surely, there are no signs pointing to Lito Atienza rejoining the LP.  But who knows, some of his colleagues may return (at least, attempt to return) to the LP as prodigal children.

LP and RP’s Shallow Selection Process

Still, if anything has been proven tonight, aside from the realization that delicadeza still lives in the country’s political sphere, it is also the realization of how shallow the selection process is for president in the Liberal Party as well as most parties in the country. It is evident that there is no system that allows each aspirant to completely discuss his or her political platform or program.  This is in contrast to the tedious but systematic selection process in the Republican and Democratic parties in the United States.

Was there a real process followed in selecting the LP candidate?  Or is the standard-bearer selected only because of popularity in surveys?  Machinery? Who has the better platform or program?

It is the lack of a selection system in parties that prevents more deserving candidates from being supported.  And it is the absence of a clear, fair process that causes the birth of splinter campaigns that prevent deserving candidates to win.

Muntinlupa Representative Ruffy Biazon’s statement to gmanews.tv is a reflection of the LP’s selection process.

“It is a shared decision in the sense that, sinabi ng LP na ‘mag-usap kayong dalawa. Kung ano man ang mapagdesisyunan ninyo, susuportahan namin,” Biazon said.

The Next Step

The question now is if Roxas’ sacrifices will end with him.  If the opposition seriously wishes to win in 2010, it should take a cue from Roxas’ example — especially those who really know that they don’t have a chance of winning, or really are unfit to run and win.  The presidential and vice presidential should a long heart-to-heart talk, just as Mar and Noynoy did last weekend.

For Noynoy’s end, the ball is in his hands.  The challenge for him is to show that he has the ability to do the job, and that he is willing to inherit the problems to be left by the present administration (Noynoy did say recently that he wouldn’t want to inherit this administration’s mess).

And please, aspirants, show us your platforms, please.  It is not enough to position yourselves as pro-poor or anti-gloria.  Show us your roadmap to real recovery.

All things considered, what Mar Roxas did was something that earns a great deal of respect.  It is proof that delicadeza still lives in the country.  It is proof that love for country can still surpass anyone’s personal or selfish ambitions.

*** Post script: Let’s add to the list Mar’s Boy Bawang moments, and his saying “bad words in public”.

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