The results of the latest survey by the polling agency Pulse Asia for the 2019 Senate derby spell bad tidings for Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, the main candidate of the Liberal Party, and for his political cohorts in the race.
“From being the party in power from 2010 to 2016, the LP is currently a ghost of its original self today.
Roxas landed at 13th place, one notch outside of the winning circle of 12. Placing 13th should be something very disturbing for Roxas. After all, he made it to number one in the 2004 senatorial election.
That is not all. Roxas was twice repudiated by the electorate — in the vice-presidential race in 2010, and in the presidential poll in 2016. What happened between 2004 and 2010 which made Roxas unpopular? The answer lies in his close ties to ex-President Benigno Aquino III and his identification with the LP.
When Roxas ran for vice president in 2010 under the LP, his strategists trained their guns on one particular rival, Sen. Loren Legarda of the Nationalist People’s Coalition. In the end, it was another candidate, Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay Sr. of the PDP, who became Vice President.
Roxas ran again in 2016, but for president under the LP. His strategists focused their efforts against Vice President Binay, the presidential candidate of the United Nationalist Alliance (after Binay was ousted from PDP). Rodrigo Duterte of the PDP won that election.
It may be argued that Roxas lost in 2010 and 2016 because his rivals were more acceptable to the electorate. His poor showing in the Pulse Asia survey, however, cannot be attributed to stronger rivals for the Senate because he was once a top placer in the Senate polls.
From being the party in power from 2010 to 2016, the LP is currently a ghost of its original self today. At present, traditional and lackluster politicians in the Senate form the hollow shell of the LP.
At its heyday during the administration of President Aquino, the LP and its top brass abused power and privilege.
Aquino orchestrated the impeachment and ouster from office of then Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona, after the SC under Corona ruled against the Aquino-Cojuangco family’s interests in Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac. For the past quarter of a century, the sugar estate had been unjustly exempted from the coverage of the agrarian reform law. The SC finally ruled that the legal arrangements which exempted the estate are unlawful.
As if that was not bad enough, Aquino replaced Corona with Maria Lourdes Sereno, a personal friend, but a lawyer who had no real experience in courtroom litigation, much less experience as a judge or justice. Political observers noted that Sereno always sided with the Aquino administration in controversial cases decided by the SC.
Sereno, who would have remained in the SC until July 2030, was supposed to be Aquino’s protector in the years after his presidency. That scheme was undone last year when the SC ordered the ouster of Sereno for failure to qualify for the post of chief justice.
Aquino’s Budget secretary, Florencio Abad, himself an LP bigwig, created a stir when it was discovered that his department allowed many Aquino administration congressmen to misuse billions of pesos of the so-called pork barrel funds of Congress. The anomaly triggered public outrage nationwide so much so that many citizens clamored for the abolition of Congress.
“His poor showing in the Pulse Asia survey, however, cannot be attributed to stronger rivals for the Senate, because he was once a top placer in the Senate polls.
The big mess which plagued the rail transit systems in Metro Manila during the Aquino regime was attributable to the LP politicians at the Department of Transportation and Communications (DoTC). The DoTC imported train coaches which were incompatible with the existing rails. One DoTC official was reported to have demanded bribe money from a foreign diplomat in exchange for a big contract. Trains stopped in the middle of nowhere and coach doors opened while in transit. Filipino commuters suffered during the LP leadership.
Observers also noted that Aquino’s handpicked Ombudsman prosecuted only the small-time crooks involved in the DoTC mess, leaving out those close to Aquino. Indeed, justice was elusive when the LP was in power.
These are the reasons why Mar Roxas and his LP cohorts are doing badly in the surveys.