CAMPAIGNING in Puerto Princesa City over the weekend, the administration’s candidate for president Manuel Roxas II compared himself to “the long-time neighbor” that people already know, and said voters would come around to voting for him in May when they realize that he has been with them through thick and thin.
He added that by May, he and not any of his opponents, would be “the flavor of the month.”
The message to local allies in Palawan and elsewhere in the country was to stay the course and not defect to any of the other leading candidates whom Roxas had earlier vowed to overtake by this time in the campaign.
There is something to be said for Roxas’ analogy—but if he is indeed our long-time neighbor, then he was the one who kept silent when burglars repeatedly broke into our house.
As our “neighbor,” Roxas had many opportunities to raise the alarm—but he didn’t.
When the President gave a pass to the incompetent officials who bungled the Luneta hostage crisis that led to the death of eight Hong Kong tourists in August 2010, Roxas said nothing.
In 2012, when the President misused hundreds of millions of pesos in taxpayers’ money to bribe senators into convicting the sitting Chief Justice of the Supreme Court at his impeachment trial, Roxas remained silent.
When the government entered into an anomalous maintenance contract that would hasten the deterioration of the MRT city train system in 2012, Roxas watched—and said nothing. In fact, there is documentary evidence that as the secretary of Transportation and Communications at the time, he knew about the crooked deal.
In January 2015, when 44 police commandos were slaughtered because of a covert operation illegally headed by the President’s friend, the national police chief who was suspended for corruption at the time, Roxas said he saw nothing—because he had been kept in the dark, even though he had command responsibility over the police as the secretary of the Interior and Local Government at the time. He called the incident “a mis-encounter.”
When Aquino rejected a proposal in Congress to give millions of long-suffering workers a tax break toward the end of 2015, Roxas parroted the President, even though the Tax Management Association of the Philippines has shown that Filipinos are among the most heavily taxed in Asia.
In 2016, when the President vetoed a bill that would have raised the paltry monthly pensions of 2 million Social Security System retirees, our neighbor Roxas fell in lockstep and kept quiet about the millions of pesos that the government paid out in scandalous bonuses paid to top SSS executives.
In April, when two farmers were shot dead by police at a protest demanding food aid in Kidapawan City because of a five-month drought, Roxas chose his words so carefully he forgot to condemn the use of lethal force on civilians.
The truth is, the last six years have given candidate Roxas so many opportunities to speak up or act as an insider to correct the defects in the government. He did neither. He never once spoke up for us. He never once raised the alarm.
That is not the kind of neighbor worth keeping.