Will Candidate of Filipino Elite Be Next President of Philippines?
Manuel “Mar” Roxas II isn’t worried the election could be delayed. No matter the date he will be the next president of the Philippines. At least he thinks so. After all, he is the candidate of the Filipino elite.
In February, officials from the nation’s Commission on Elections warned of the possibility of a delay because of problems with the balloting machines. Last week they repeated the warning. The reaction across the Philippine archipelago has been swift. Many people see, instead of a technical mishap, the spectre of fraud. According to the constitution of the island nation, an election for president must occur on the second Monday of May of an election year. By law, then, the election for president in 2016 is set for May 9th.
Roxas, though, is not concerned with preserving the democratic institutions of the Philippines. He has only one objective: to secure the presidency for himself. Roxas knows, however, that he does not have a clear path to the nation’s highest office, even though he does have the blessing of Benigno S. Aquino III, the current president of the Southeast Asian nation. Surveys of voters across the Philippine islands indicate that, of the four leading candidates, Roxas shows up in last place, behind Grace Poe, Jejomar Binay, and Rodrigo Duterte.
Roxas confronts serious obstacles. Filipinos associate him with one of the worst natural disasters in the nation’s history, and with one of its biggest political scandals. In 2013, Roxas held the post of Interior and Local Government Secretary in the cabinet of President Aquino when Typhoon Haiyan, called Yolanda by Filipinos, destroyed part of the Philippine archipelago. In the aftermath of the super storm, Roxas was the presiding official during the influx of millions of dollars in aid from donors around the world; he was, also, the man in charge during the disappearance of most of these dollars.
Roxas, however, has one big advantage over the other three leading candidates: he is the representative of the nation’s elite. After resigning his post in Aquino’s cabinet late last year to launch his campaign, Roxas now receives from Aquino and the Aquino family’s powerful supporters resources no other candidate can match. In exchange, Roxas has to protect the interests of the ruling families who have controlled the wealth and power of the Philippines for decades.
Roxas believes it is his time to be president, whether he receives his mandate to rule on May 9th or on some other date in 2016. His grandfather, the first Manuel Roxas, was president of the Philippines from 1946 to 1948. His family friend and benefactor, the third Benigno Aquino, has been president from 2010 until 2016. Now Roxas wants to follow in their footsteps. He believes it is his turn.