Spotlight on Mar RoxasBy Malou Guanzon-Apalisok
Cebu Daily News
All eyes are on newly appointed Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas who takes over the post of the late Jesse Robredo a few days after the latter perished in a plane crash.
Members of the press who covered the news conference in Malacañang last Friday had expected a fresh and well-groomed Mar going up the podium after President Benigno Aquino III made the announcement, but to their surprise, Roxas showed up “unkempt and tired, in need of sleep and a hair comb.”
This was the observation of Raissa Robles, whose well-followed blog featured an exclusive article titled, “The Trouble With Mar Roxas.” The story immediately caught the interest of netizens, many of whom shared it on the social networking site, Facebook.
The Sept. 1 article had a video clip that showed a less than enthusiastic Mar accepting the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) portfolio, looking drowsy and a bit dishevelled.
I read the article in full and reviewed the clip, and I must say Mar could have dropped and fallen asleep right there at the Malacañang Hall except for the glare of flash cameras that clicked endlessly and which kept him on his toes.
Robles is quite familiar with the political career of Secretary Roxas having tracked his stint as congressman, Trade Secretary and later as senator of the Republic.
On some occasions she saw him hesitating on simple things like a photo shoot to accompany the Asiaweek magazine article that Robles wrote. When Roxas served as Trade Secretary under then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, he was scheduled to attend a meeting with his European counterpart but did not show up, much to the chagrin of embassy officials who worked to make the meeting possible.
I’m not sure if Secretary Roxas, a scion of the elite Roxas and Araneta families, came up with a creditable explanation for the aforementioned boo-boos, because failure on his part may have contributed to the impression that he shuns hard work.
His defeat in the 2010 vice presidential race is often attributed to his lack of fire in the belly, that passion which enables a man to survive a severe test.
With all due respect to my colleague, I see many “scientific” explanations to Mr. Roxas’ physical exhaustion.
Mar as Transportation Secretary had been in the frontlines of the search and rescue operations for Secretary Robredo when the Piper Seneca that he rode crashed off Masbate last Aug. 18.
The mobilization of government resources and foreign state agencies including private groups who volunteered to help in the search took many days and interminable hours until Robredo’s body and that of his companions were found.
Roxas could have dropped out of the scene after that, but there was P-Noy who kept tabs and stayed close with the search and rescue operations team. Moreover, Jesse was Mar’s close buddy. Preparations for the state burial took a few more days. This, while the administration party met to discuss who will take Jesse’s mantle in the DILG.
In the end, the President chose Mar Roxas to head the DILG. Because nobody says no to the President, this must have been the toughest decision that Mar made in his entire life because to assume the Cabinet position means to measure up to the highest standards set by Robredo.
RA 6975 contemplates overseeing operations of local government units and government officials in building up their capabilities to run their respective lgus. The Department has authority as well over the National Police, Napolcom, Bureau of Fire Protection, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology and the National Action Committee on Anti-Hijacking.
It’s a Herculean task by any standard, made tougher by the stellar performance of Mar’s predecessor.
While Mar Roxas thinks he has big tsinelas to fill in the DILG, he is well suited for the job. He needs only to mobilize the system, build up on the gains made by his predecessor and at the same time foster transparency and good governance in his actions. It’s easier said than done, which is why Mar needs to see a supernatural dimension in the work at hand, because that is how Robredo accomplished it.
I’m glad to hear that as Secretary Roxas prepares to roll up his sleeves, he took on a Robredo-esque mindset, declaring that he must remove all thoughts about the 2016 elections in order to succeed.
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- Dilaab’s quixotic campaign
- David and Goliath in Talisay City