April 25, 2016

Roxas' Rise (Part 1 of 3): LP rises to power as Cojuangcos betray Mar

After a 6-year delay, Roxas believes that now is his time to become the President of the Republic. There’s a part of me that understands what he feels. After all, he’s already been sidetracked... twice.

Liberal Party President and former Senator Manuel ’Mar’ Roxas was set to run for president in 2010. In a shocking turn of events, however, he voluntarily stepped aside to let Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino run in his stead. Everyone knows the basic story, but ThinkingPinoy believes that few know what really happened behind the scenes.

In this article, let ThinkingPinoy tell you the story of how factions within Daang Matuwid shaped the past six years, and how it may shape the 2016 Philippine Presidential Elections.

Roxas and the "lower classes"

In as early as 2008, Roxas knows that he will have to cross the seven seas to win the 2010 presidency. His predicament is best described in a leaked 2008 diplomatic cable prepared by US Ambassador Kristie Kenney:
“[Roxas] believed he was well qualified and could do the job, but had trouble getting media coverage and said television ads were going to be expensive. Roxas said that only Manuel Villar had the funds to buy television time at this stage… The key to victory, Roxas said, would be convincing the lower classes that [he] had their interests at heart. Roxas confided to the Ambassador that he was not sure how he personally would tackle that problem, given that his Wharton MBA and ten years on Wall Street as an investment banker did not ‘exactly call to the common man’[Wikileaks]"

Yes, Roxas told Kenney that he had a Wharton MBA [TP], but we will not talk about that anymore.

US Ambassador Kristie Kenney

Roxas found the prospect of a head-to-head presidential battle with Villar problematic, as it would come at great financial and political cost but with little to no real assurance of a favorable outcome. Something that's contrary to his instincts as an "investment banker" [TP: Banker].

The billionaire Villar has pockets deeper than the waters of Manila Bay. He can launch a de facto campaign anytime he wants, for as long as he wants. Roxas, whose net worth was less than P250 million, has no means to do that on his own. Villar can easily outspend Roxas, hands down [Forbes].

Remember this?

But for Roxas, the lack of appeal to “the lower classes” and his lack of funding are just two of three problems.

Erap's comeback

The Mar of  the mid-200s thought Erap stood no chance at winning 2010. But by 2008, the convicted-then-pardoned  plunderer has become the top pick in pre-electoral surveys [GMA]. After all, third-stringer Estrada, despite being scorned by ABC voters after the impeachment trial, still enjoys the support of the massive DE.

Yes, Erap has became a legitimate 2010 presidential contender. I can just surmise Roxas’ regret for recommending Erap’s 2007  pardon to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo [Senate].
DILG Sec. Mar Roxas with Manila Mayor Erap Estrada in the early 2010s.

Roxas lacks a solid voter base like Erap’s classes D and E. His pockets, while deep, are not as deep as Villar’s. With no solid following, no charisma, and (relatively) no funds, Roxas has nothing else to bank on except the Roxas family name.

But then, his President-grandfather’s legacy is hardly memorable, with a portrait on the 100-peso bill as the only widely accessible reminder of his political existence. Besides, who would want to remember the late President Roxas’ legacy?

He's Roxas' lolo.

I am sure even Mar wouldn’t want that. Let me quickly tell you why:

Despite reigning for less than two years, postwar President Manuel Roxas Sr. managed to entangle himself in three major scandals: the Bell Trade Act [Brittanica] , the Surplus War Propery Scandal [Simbulan 2005], and the Chinese Immigration Quota Scandal [Jurado 2015], all of which may be used as fodder by his election rivals at the most opportune moment.

Pres. Manuel Roxas and the Surplus War Property Scandal

Mar Roxas’ chances of winning the 2010 race is 50-50, at best. That doesn’t sound good.

The “Yellow Fever”

Former President Corazon “Cory” Cojuangco-Aquino death in August 2009 shocked the nation [BBC]. Because Filipinos widely regard Cory as Philippine democracy icon, her death resulted into a deluge of public sympathy for the surviving members of the Cojuangco-Aquino family. The months following her death was filled with an air of nostalgia for the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution, where Cory served as the figurehead.

To cut the long story short, her son Noynoy rose to the top of surveys a month later [Reuters].

Cory's 2009 funeral procession.

Public grief over her loss is palpable. During those times, anything – or anyone – Aquino is as appealing to the public as the latest ABS-CBN soap.

Roxas saw what that meant, and he did what he thought he had to do.

Roxas stepped aside and allowed Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino, Cory’s only son who also happens to be named after the hero Ninoy, run in his stead. Subsequently, Mar settled to run for the vice-presidency [ABSCBN].

At this point, two of the Liberal Party’s three-fold dilemma – lack of charisma and lack of a solid voter base – were solved via the massive sympathy vote.

Now, they have one last thing to worry about: money.

Cojuangco money is not enough

The extremely wealthy Cojuangco Political Dynasty, where Noynoy belongs, is a prime source of campaign kitty. However, the clan’s leaders have differing, and oftentimes clashing, political interests.

Two major “political” factions exist within the Cojuangco clan:
  1. Cory and Peping: siblings
  2. Danding: Cory’s and Pepings’ first cousin.

Aside from the automatic backing of his immediate family, Noynoy also secured the support of Tito Peping [ABSCBN]. However, Tito Danding was torn between his two nephews Noynoy and Gibo (Teodoro), who’s also running [Philstar].

Danding eventually decided to support Noynoy in February 2010 [GMANews], but his decision came way into the election season. That is, in as far as LP's campaign planning, Danding's financial support was not factored in.

That’s a major setback, considering that Danding is arguably the wealthiest Cojuangco alive, thanks to the Coco Levy funds he plundered decades ago [TP: Coco Levy].
The Cojuangcos bicker up to this day.

Historically rich familes (Old Money Families), do not think of family-owned funds as a tool for personal gain. Instead, they think of themselves as stewards of their financial capital [Bonner 2012].

Confining the comparison to members of the Cojuangco clan, Danding is the most noveau riche among the three. That is, Danding most likely has more liquid assets than Cory and Peping.

Too bad for LP, Danding roots for someone else. Hence, the dynamic duo of BatMar (Roxas) and Noybin (Noynoy) had to seek help from other sources.

 Sorry, I can't help it.

For better or for worse, the duo sought help from private businessmen. This includes the illegal miner Eric Guttierez, owner of SR Metals Inc. Guttierez lent LP his plane/s for use in the 2010 campaign [TP: Campaign Planes].

At that point, all bases were covered. BatMar and Noybin are ready to rumble.

But, at the last minute...

Cojuangcos betray Mar

The 2010 Presidential race an extremely one-sided affair in favor of the Cojuangco-Aquino scion. Noynoy consistently topped surveys month after month, and eventually won by landslide.


VP bet Mar, however, was not as fortunate.

Late April 2010 Pulse Asia Survey
Late April 2010 SWS Survey
2010 Pulse Asia Exit Poll
2010 SWS Exit Pol

Roxas consistently edged then-Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay in all surveys immediately preceding the May elections. With at least 10% over Binay in both SWS and Pulse Asia surveys in late April 2010, the gap more than compensated for the margin of error. On the day before the elections, almost everyone was expecting to have a Vice-president Roxas.

But that didn’t happen. Because of factionalization among PNoy’s core political allies.

PNoy’s political allies are divided into two major factions: Samar and Balay [ABS-CBN].
  1. The Samar Group, named after PNoy’s campaign headquarters in Samar Avenue, Quezon City, is led by Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa and whose membership includes members of the Cojuangco-Aquino family (that includes the blabbermouth Kris). Samar is sympathetic to the Binays.
  2. The Balay group, named after the Roxas estate in Cubao, is made up of Liberal Party stalwarts, defecting Arroyo cabinet members (the Hyatt 10), and is generally sympathetic to Mar Roxas

Samar secretly dumped Mar and supported Binay in the last few weeks of the campaign. That is, Samar’s clandestine support fueled Binay’s last-minute surge [GMANews].

Kawawang Mar. Nagparaya na nga, naisahan pa.

Hay, Mar, bakit ka ba kasi uto-uto?

[to be continued]


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