Liberal Party (LP) senatorial bet Manuel Roxas II is said to suffer from the anti-dilawan attacks of President Rody Duterte, the reason for his precarious position in the coming midterm poll which is but a half truth.
A bigger factor for his poor showing is his poor appeal among voters that his own party impliedly accepted in the past few political exercises.
In the 2016 polls, wary of Roxas’ chances to succeed President Noynoy Aquino, the party launched a trial balloon called “One more term for PNoy” where Roxas seeks to “slide down” to the vice presidency.
He already slid down to give way to Noynoy in 2010 when the Cory hysteria was at its peak after the death of former President Cory Aquino on 1 August 2009.
The LP’s ploy was a repeat of the disastrous Roxas campaign in 2010 where Makati City Mayor Jojo Binay came from behind to snatch the vice presidency.
The fear was realized but on a more convincing fashion, as Davao City Mayor Rody Duterte thrashed Roxas with a lead of more than six million votes.
Shortly before the 2016 campaigns, Roxas, despite having an entitlement to being LP’s standard bearer, was not a shoo-in since the LP was even floating either then Speaker Sonny Belmonte or Senate President Frank Drilon as replacements.
Naming Belmonte and Drilon as alternatives, however, showed the depth of the LP desperation then for a presidential timber.
Later on talks turned to, at that time, neophyte Sen. Grace Poe to carry the LP banner but was protested by Roxas who said that he will accede only if Poe would be his vice presidential tandem.
Then what seems to be an LP-commissioned survey popped up comparing the chances of Mar and Grace to carry Noynoy’s endorsement.
LP’s move for a term extension for Noynoy was doomed from the start since it would require a change in the Constitution which was a prospect as unpopular as a Roxas candidacy.
With the option on Noynoy out of the equation, the LP seems stuck with Mar Roxas.
The LP then subscribed to the command vote concept of local leaders supposedly dictating the outcome of their constituents’ vote that was a theory that Rody completely debunked.
Rody would always cite in his speeches that he got the landslide win over Roxas with just one or two governors or mayors supporting him.
In contrast, Roxas had the Bottom-Up Budgeting (BuB) which was referred to by his opponents as the “Buy Ur Barangay” scheme.
The BuB featured heavy infusion of government projects and funding handled at the barangay level where misuse of funds was more rampant.
The yellow mob had by then become adept at using government resources in achieving their ends whether it be the removal of an official with a constitutionally-guaranteed term or in exploiting government resources according to their whims which had often conflicted with limitations under the Constitution.
Roxas then rationalized the BuB funds were distributed to local governments without consideration of party affiliations and political persuasions. Not mentioned was that the only requirement was that he be supported in the 2016 run.
Roxas’ pitch went against Noynoy rasputin Budget Secretary Butch Abad’s claim that the BuB was not pork barrel but a scheme that empowers local governments in prioritizing projects they needed.
Roxas then said the LP and the administration of Noynoy should be credited for not employing political considerations on the scheme.
Of course, Roxas was former secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) which distributes most of the projects under the BuB scheme.
When he resigned from the DILG post after his anointment from Noynoy, another LP kingpin, Mel Sarmiento, took over the reins of the DILG.
Roxas tried to win some political cookies when he promised that Noynoy will be appointed to a non-existent post called “minister-mentor” if he wins the presidency.
Now he is reprising his senatorial candidacy, a role which he assumed since there’s nobody else in his party who has a decent chance at the polls.
Instead of a referendum on the performance of Rody, the midterm polls will be the reckoning of LP’s future in the political scene.