December 24, 2015

FACT CHECK: Mar Roxas' "Achievements"

Many of Manuel “Mar” Roxas’ supporters share a common belief that his accomplishments dramatically overshadow his deadly and costly mistakes. They say that his grievous errors – Yolanda, Mamasapano, etc. – pale in comparison to “everything else that he has accomplished”. But what exactly is “everything else”?


In a previous article, we agreed that running for the presidency is like a job application. Hence, in this article series, we will pretend that we’re conducting a job interview with Mar Roxas as the applicant, registered voters like us as the interviewers, and his website as his curriculum vitae (CV).

In that article, we have comprehensively evaluated Mar’s history prior to his entry in public service: his childhood, his education, and his career in the private sector.

We have found out that his “Background in Economics” started at age 7, and that his illustrious investment banking career is best described as “14 years and just one promotion.”

Despite these, let’s pretend that we’re still continuing the interview. Since we’re finished with his pre-Politics background, it’s time to evaluate everything he’s accomplished starting when he became a congressman in 1993.

Mar Roxas CV Part 2.1: Positions Held

Here comes the tough part: we ask Mar Roxas about his major achievements related to his two-decade career in government. To do that, we refer to his official website.

Let’s list down the positions he had since he entered politics in 1993.
  • 1993 – 2000 : Congressman, 1st District of Capiz
  • 2000 – 2003 : Secretary, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)
  • 2004 – 2010 : Senator
  • 2011 – 2012 : Secretary, Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC)
  • 2012 – 2015 : Secretary, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG)
Now that we have learned the positions he held for the last two decades, it’s quite easy to see that he actually has considerable experience in public administration.
In Part 1, our two criteria for a “presidentiable” are:
  1. has the basic training and skills to be the country's top leader,
  2. has no fear of going against powerful interests for the good of the common Filipino.
To make discussion simpler and shorter, let’s just assume that he has the basic training and skills.

Mar Roxas CV Part 2.2: Work-related Achievements

According to the timeline in, the following are Mar’s achievements since he took office in 1993:

Now, when examining the applicant CV’s, the interviewer should be able to point out which achievements are relevant to the company’s needs, and which ones are not. Thus, I included only those accomplishments that actually attempt to create real change. Giving him an award or two doesn’t directly improve anything, so his Palanca Award, his Lee Kuan Yew fellowship, etc. were excluded.

What are Powerful Interests?

We have twenty entries in the list. Now, it’s time to check if they are relevant to the second criteria, which is:
The next president has no fear of going against powerful interests for the good of the common Filipino.
But what exactly is a Powerful Interest?

The term “Powerful Interest” refers to individuals or organizations that exert major influence in the Philippine social, political, or economic  sphere. This includes large corporations, influential political families, foreign powers, the Roman Catholic Church, among others.  This term is a simpler but broader alternative for the word “Oligarchy”.

Sa Tagalog, sila ang mga tao o grupong may matinding kapangyarihan, kayamanan, o impluwensiya sa lipunan.
You might want to ask, why this criterion? It’s because all projects that do not encounter serious and powerful opposition can also be achieved by someone else. Meanwhile, those projects that run counter to the interest of the oligarchy (Big Business, Powerful Political Families, Powerful Foreign Governments) are the ones that test a person’s character, a person’s fitness to be our next president.

Mar needs to prove that he is unlike anybody else. He needs to show us that he is willing and able to go through hell for our sake.

Kumbaga sa basketball, gusto ko ‘yung nakikipagpatayan para sa championship, hindi yung nanalo lang dahil absent ang kalaban.

Mar’s Relevant “Achievements”

Given this list, the logical questions to ask would be, “Which among these achievements required Roxas to go against powerful interests? Which of these accomplishments tested Roxas’ resolve, his strength in the midst of adversity?”

To do this, let's first discard those projects that are irrelevant to our criterion.

First, the following items are just procurement projects so they are irrelevant:
  • 5: [2000] PCs for Public Schools
  • 19: [2015] PNP Patrol Jeeps and Firetrucks
  • 20: [2015] Safe KAM – CCTVs
Gumastos lang sila ng pera. Madali lang gumastos ng pera. Hindi yan mahalaga sa criteria natin.
Second,  the following projects have little to do with powerful intersts:
  • 1: [1995] RA 7880, Fair Education Act
  • 2: [1998] RA 8759, PESO Act
  • 7: [2008] RA 9501, Magna Carta for Small Business
  • 14: [2012] EO 75, Protects Seamen from Blacklists
While some may argue that RA 9501 may be against powerful interests, remember that in as far as competitiveness, Small Business are inherently at a disadvantage because they don’t have the economies of scale that large corporations enjoy. Kumbaga, hindi interesado ang mga mayayaman sa issue na ito dahil wala lang talaga silang kinalaman dyan o kung meron man, hindi sulit sa effort na ipaglaban pa.

Third, the following benefited the public, but they also benefited powerful interests, so let’s call these “welcome coincidences” (they are still irrelevant per criterion):
  • 3: [1999] RA 8748 and RA8756 (Ecozone Incentives)
  • 4: [2000] Explosive Growth of PH IT-BPO
  • 8: [2008] RA 9504, Tax Exemptions for Min. Wage
Note that the tax exemptions do indeed benefit minimum wage earners to the detriment of government revenue collections. They also benefitted big business because happy workers mean fewer absences and fewer strikes.

Fourth, the following marginally benefitted the public, but they grossly benefitted powerful interests (still irrelevant per criterion):
  • 10: [2011] Lifting of EU Ban on Filipino airlines
Benefitted Lucio Tan’s PAL, which is the only carrier with EU routes. It did not really benefit Filipinos because there already are other airlines that provide drastically cheaper fares. For example, PAL charges US$1100 (Php 49500) for a rountrip Manila-London ticket, while Qatar Airways and Etihad charge US$ 900 (Php 40500) and US$ 1000 (Php 45000), respectively.

Mahal talaga maningil ang PAL. Kahit hindi direct flight, papatulan ko na lang ang Qatar at Thai Airways para makatipid ng US$100-200 (Php 4500-9000).
Fifth, the following triggered ongoing debate as to whether they actually benefit the public, although they surely benefit powerful interest:
  • 13: [2012] Developing Seaports (especially Davao)
The Davao City government recently filed a resolution that blocks the Sasa Seaport PPP Project because of lack of consultation, lack of provision for cruise vessels, the lack of provisions for break-bulk and bulk cargo. Minamadali ng DOTC ang project kahit walang “say” ang mga Dabawenyong maapektuhan nito.

Sixth, the following projects are still incomplete or rarely implemented, so we can’t count them in his list of achievements:
  • 15: [2012] LRT-1 Extension (Baclaran to Bacoor)
  • 16: [2012] LRT-2 Extension (Masinag)
  • 12: [2012] Bottom-up Budgeting Program (versus local politicians)
Hindi ko mabibigyan si Roxas ng pogi points sa mga project na hindi pa niya natatapos. 

Balita ko pa nga, magpapasagasa pa nga raw si PNoy at si DOTC Sec. Abaya dahil hindi natuloy ang LRT Extension. Sa totoo lang naman kasi, hindi na nila kailangan gawin yon dahil lumapit lang sila sa istasyon ng MRT, kahit hindi na sila pumasok, pwede na silang masagasaan ng tren.

Parang ganyan. Patayuin na lang si Roxas, Aquino, at Abaya sa kanto ng EDSA at Taft.
Seventh, the following went against a powerful interest (himself), but I won’t give him credit for it because he was obviously unwinnable in 2010 (i.e. wala naman siyang choice eh). The following "achievement" happened when Mar Roxas decided to step aside and let Noynoy Aquino run for president in his stead:
  • 9: [2009] Bayan Muna Bago Sarili (versus himself)
Ang dami kong nagastos noong 2010, pero waley!

Mar Roxas vs the Oligarchy

To make this easier to discuss, I created a table that shows which of the achievements indeed required Roxas to go against powerful interests, and which ones didn’t.
The List of Roxas' Major Achievements

After discarding irrelevant achievements, we are now left with the following projects that actually went against powerful interests:
  • 6: [2008] Cheaper Medicines Act (versus US Government, Multinational Patent Holders)
  • 11: [2012] Air Passenger Bill of Rights (versus CebuPac’s Gokongweis)
  • 17: [2013] Disaster Management (versus unafilliated local politicians)
  • 18: [2014] Oplan Lambat-Sibat (versus the Police hierarchy and criminal syndicates)
Here comes the best part. Let’s now examine those four (4) achievements that actually required him to fight powerful interests for the sake of the common Filipino.
SIDE NOTE: It's ironic, though, that Roxas is also part of the Oligarchy.   He is a member of the powerful Araneta Clan, the same owners of Araneta Center and vast lands (haciendas) in the Visayas. Through his Roxas blood, he's also related to the Zobel de Ayalas. By marriage of his uncles, he's also related to the Inquirer's Prietos. By marriage to Korina Sanchez, he's also "related" to the Lopezes of media giant ABS-CBN.

So paano niya lalaban ang mga makapangyarihan kung ka-close niya rin ang mga ito?
This was according to a 2008 Manila Bulletin (MB) article entitled "Philippine Politics and its Genealogy" by Todd Lucero Sales. The original MB article is no longer existent, and we are just left with copies published in various forums and personal blogs. 

Bakit kaya?

And lastly, it's worthy to note that over 95% of our leaders from the past 150 years are related to each other either by blood or through marriage. Interesting, huh?

But I digress. Let's go back to the four relevant projects.

Before we go into detail, let me give a short explanation as to which powerful interests Mar went against, and the results of the ordeal.

Achievement: [2008] Cheaper Medicines Act

The original version of the Cheaper Medicines Bill was gloriously beneficial for the common Filipino. But Roxas weakened the bill before it was passed, after pressure from the Multinational Pharmaceutical Corporations.

Initially, the bill wanted to create a Drug Price Control Board that sets the maximum prices of over 1000 essential drugs. During the debates, Roxas rejected this provision and pushed for parallel importation instead. That is, instead of just forcing pharmaceutical companies to lower prices, Roxas wanted to use taxpayer money to subsidize full-priced drug imports that will then be sold to local drugstores.

Nakakalito, di ba? Kung pwede naman palang pwersahin na lang silang magbaba ng presyo, bakit aakuin pa ng taxpayers ang subsidy sa gamot?

While the bill was still pending, sources indicate that Roxas met with US Government officials several times, with the latter exerting pressure on Roxas to dilute (o pahinain/palabnawin) the final version of the Cheaper Medicines Act.

But why would he do that? Remember that all these happened during the second half  of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s 2nd term (2006 onwards), just a couple of years before the 2010 Presidential Elections. In a leaked document, it appears that Mar was hoping for US support for his 2010 presidential bid. Hindi niya pwedeng galitin ang Estados Unidos dahil kailangan niya ng pabor dito.

So ayun, bumigay din siya. Ang masaklap pa diyan, corrupt act na nga ang ginawa ni Roxas, akalain mo bang sabihin pa niyang binasura niya ang proposal para sa Drug Price Control Board dahil ito raw ay "prone to corruption"

Kapal rin ng mukha e no?

Kaya't sa susunod na atakihin ka ng altapresyon at hindi mo pa rin mabili ang niresetang gamot sa iyo, itong tao na ito ang sisihin mo:

Para sa ulat tungkol sa Cheaper Medicines Act, click here.
Note: Ginawa kong less formal ang language para hindi masyadong nosebleed. Pasensiya na po sa mga may gusto ng diretso na English.

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