Honesty and integrity: Keystone of a good leader (Philippine Star)

Now that the President has anointed his close friend DILG Secretary Manuel ‘Mar’ Roxas to succeed him in the 2016 presidential elections, the battle lines are clear. At this point, survey results can be thrown out the window because it’s a whole new ballgame now. With this proclamation members of the Liberal Party are now expected to get onboard and help support Roxas’ bid to the highest office of the land.

There was a lot of controversy and rumors about who P-Noy was going to push to be his successor and I think this might be what caused survey results showing Mar in the lower bracket of rumored presidential candidates. Now that Aquino has done what many thought he would do and stand by his friend, the Liberal Party is finally going to throw its full weight behind Roxas and I think we are going to start to see a change in the polls. As the Bible says, ‘the last will become first.’

I first met Mar Roxas when he dropped by The STAR Port Area office when he was running for a higher elective post. He was then known as “Mr. Palengke” (because he would visit the wet markets to see the standard of goods and prices) and was enthusiastically received in the pressroom by a cheering crowd. At the time, we were all thinking that it was possible he would become the next president. He was very polite and humble and expressed himself in a very genuine way.

Many know that Mar had initially expressed no interest in becoming the president of the country. Politics was not even really his passion or what he perceived was his life’s calling. It was his older brother Rep. Gerardo Manuel Roxas or ‘Dinggoy,’ who was a rising star in the world of politics and was aiming for Malacanang. Alas, it was not meant to be. Dinggoy succumbed to disease and Mar was thrust into the political arena despite showing a keen business acumen, which would most certainly earn him success in the field of business.

His story is actually similar to that of former President John F. Kennedy. His father had originally wanted his eldest son to seek the presidency but when he died in the line of duty, JFK was thrust into the spotlight. When it comes down to it, we can all plan for our lives, but destiny also has a way of changing and defining things.

From what I know and have known of Mar Roxas, I believe that he is an excellent candidate. We are looking for someone who is honest, who values the future of the Philippines, and who is willing to do the right thing even when it’s hard. I think Roxas has already proven he can do that. Back when he had his eye set on Malacanang he stepped down to let P-Noy take the lead when he realized that it was what the Filipinos wanted. His sacrifice is now being rewarded and the president is fulfilling his part of the bargain and supporting Mar’s presidential bid.

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Up this point, so much was in the air about who would be in the presidential race and who the Filipino people would be pinning their hopes on in 2016. It’s a very emotional time for the country because we are desperate to see change and we want it to happen soon. To become the leader of the nation one must accept a heavy burden of fulfilling the hopes and dreams of those who gave you the power to lead them. It’s a heavy load to carry because there is only so much you can do in the amount of time you’re given, but it’s important to keep on trying because big changes start with small ones and everything has to start somewhere.

As President Aquino said when he publicly backed Mar the real battle is about to begin. He was referring to helping Roxas raise his popularity and gain the trust of the people. As the president said, “His numbers may now be low, but that only means that we need to do even more to make him known to all. Again, we are being called to prove that ‘the Filipino is worth fighting for.'” And it will indeed be a fight. Thanks to the digital landscape, voters are more likely to be discerning and even skeptical when it comes to the information they receive during the campaign season. Information about candidates helping people or candidates pushing for change at this point will be viewed as self-serving and campaigning.

I think this is when track records will come into play. It’s time to look beyond what we see now and look back over all that has been accomplished and achieved in the years past. We have to look at what has been historically important to candidates so we can choose the candidate that is best primed to give the country what it really needs.

I believe that Mar Roxas could be a great leader. It is in him to push the country into the future and make the hard decisions that will yield positive results. As a highly educated and intelligent politician, he can help push the country’s business agenda and mold the economy to be competitive with other ASEAN countries. To quote his own words, “Professional, not transactional. We leave nothing to chance. We deal with a systematic approach of attaining our goals a government that is answerable for our bosses, for the people that gave us our mandate to serve with greatness.”

He said that P-Noy started the path that showed us what Filipinos can achieve whether it be dreams as simple as food on the table or as complicated as a fair justice system. Though there have been improvements in the last five years, Roxas, should he win, will still inherit a government that has much to account for, much to fix, and so much more to prove. He will need to unify the officials in the Philippines and allow for more national and local government cooperation and coordination. It’s only this way that he will be able to get everyone to work towards the same goal.

This 2016 will hopefully see another actionable step towards a better Philippines. We have what it takes to make it better, we just have to work at it and elect leaders that share the same vision. Hopefully we see a thriving economy with a stronger division of wealth throughout the classes and a unified strong Philippines as the end goal.

At this point, we are faced with the same scenario we are faced with every election the chance to make the right choice and elect leaders who will make a positive difference. I believe this time that Mar will make it to the finish line. Though I will readily admit that I admire Vice President Jojo Binay’s earlier days and work as a staunch human rights activist as well as championing the oppressed during Marial Law, I still feel that Mar Roxas could be the leader we need and I hope he succeeds in what will undoubtedly be the toughest race of his life.