Roxas searches for life's meaning in presidency

Thursday, April 30, 2009 | posted in , , , , , , | 0 comments

I'm sharing to you an article with a video interview made by Inquirer to Senator Mar Roxas about his run for President in 2010. Below is the article and video made available to you by this blog:

Nothing can stop Senator Manuel Roxas II from running for President in 2010.

"What other meaning can my life have other than that?" said Roxas during a dinner with Inquirer editors and reporters in which he categorically declared that he would pursue the presidency.

"I am ready to serve. I am prepared to make it happen. I think I'm the best qualified, competence-wise, value-wise. And I owe it to my country to try what I can and fix it," said the 54-year-old senator.

Roxas, grandson of the late President Manuel Roxas, said it would be a great disservice to the Filipino people if he did not offer himself as a presidential candidate.

He said people should be given a chance to pick him, saying: "What higher calling can there be than try to fix your country?"

Roxas was not disheartened by his low ratings in the surveys--he ranked fifth in the Social Weather Stations survey of presidential preference in February.

"May 2010," he said, when asked by Inquirer editor-in-chief Letty Jimenez Magsanoc at what point he would throw in the towel and just support a candidate who would put this country back on track.

Roxas, president of the Liberal Party, said the single most important element in the presidency was trust.

"One way of analyzing the ills of the country is there's no trust -- every man for himself. People in fact trust the reverse. They don't trust that if I fell in line, and followed the rules and did what's right, then I will get ahead," he said.

"For me to get ahead, I must make suhol (give bribes), I must make singit (budget insertions) and I must find a different way. That has become the most corrosive, dangerous development--the acceptance that that's a fact of life here. If you have that, you really have a broken society," he said.

He said a system abetting corruption and "subterfuges," and where "having connections is the norm" was not a democracy.

"You just have the elite back--scratching each other and protecting each other's interest. The elite screwed us up over the last four generations."

Told that he was part of the country’s elite, he replied, "But my record, my father's record and grandfather's record speak for itself. It's not like at anytime they stole or took advantage of their position, or in any way used their position to enlarge their economic interests," said Roxas.

The influential Roxas clan owns the Araneta center and vast tracts of land in Capiz. In fact, Roxas City, provincial capital of Capiz province was named after the clan's patriarch.

"Why is it that Cubao is only doing call centers today when I was the guy who started it? Because as the DTI (Department of Trade and Industry secretary), I'm the guy who awarded eco-zone status, which means no tax and (you have) incentives. And Cubao was not allowed to apply with PEZA," said Roxas, who was concurrently chair of the Philippine Economic Zone Authority at the time.

When he was DTI chief in 2000, Roxas developed, conceptualized and wrote the PEZA rules that now grant incentives such as duty-free importation of capital equipment to IT locators and businesses.

Roxas said he didn't allow it so as not to be accused of conflict of interest.

When he saw that office spaces in Metro Manila were empty as an offshoot of the 1997 Asian financial crisis, the then trade secretary harnessed the potential of the country as a global electronic-services hub.

He then launched "Make IT (information technology) Philippines" and organized the first IT-enabled services to the US which inevitably led to the biggest global industry names to invest in the country, thereby creating 400,000 jobs for call center agents and Filipino IT workers.

Roxas also said that last year, he raised $3 million from the private sector to fund a McKenzie study to take the industry to the next stage.

"The industry needs a new strategic plan that was credible... to pay for a professional business development team that will continue to keep the Philippine present in the international arena," he said.

Roxas finished economics at the Wharton School of Economics at the University of Pennsylvania in 1979. Before entering public service, he worked as an investment banker in the US.

He began his public service life in the House of Representatives in 1993.

After his congressional stint, he was appointed secretary of trade by then President Joseph Estrada, and was re-appointed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

In 2004, he won a Senate seat with 19.5 million votes, the largest ever obtained by a candidate in any Philippine election.

Roxas said he began to see "how lucky I am" while in the US.

A Cuban friend, Roberto Goizueta, asked him about then strongman Ferdinand Marcos' decree to hold snap elections in 1986. Goizueta was then the chair of Coca-Cola Corp. based in Atlanta, Georgia.

"What are you doing? Marcos declared elections." Goizueta asked.

When Roxas retorted that he would go home and find work, the Cuban said: "I am Cuban. I have no country to go back to. You have a chance to do something for your country. It's a real story that reminds me what else is there. I've been very lucky in my life," he said.

He recalled his late father, Gerry, a former senator, teaching him about "deep sense of duty and responsibility to give back."

"You were born with a ladder. So after you climbed your ladder, don't pull it up. You have to leave it there to allow others to come up," he said, recalling Gerry's favorite metaphor for public service.

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Kevin Ray N. Chua

Kevin Ray N. Chua is a 19 year-old blogger from Cebu City, Philippines and an IT Student at Cebu Institute of Technology.

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