Without a doubt, former Interior Secretary and Liberal Party (LP) standard-bearer is essentially running for President Benigno Aquino III’s second term. Take a look at the ad spot that his campaign released last month.
“Mar Roxas po. Sabi nila hindi ako laki sa hirap, wala akong madramang kwento, pero hindi naman tungkol sa aking ang eleksyon, eh. Tungkol ito sa inyo at sa inyong pamilya. Hindi ko kayo bibigyan ng hugot. Tututukan ko, trabaho para sa inyo. ‘Yun ang alam ko, ‘yun ang kaya ko.”
Towards the end, Roxas declared his unflinching support for “daang matuwid,” a coin phrased by Aquino’s camp during his successful presidential campaign in 2010. “Itutuloy ko ang daang matuwid. Kung may kulang pa, pupunuan ko. Kung may mali pa, itatama ko.”
In another spot released just this week, no less than Aquino himself appeared in the advertisement to promote Roxas and his running-mate Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo. Here’s what the President said:
“Mga boss, patapos na po ang aking termino. Eleksyon na, marami na namang manliligaw sa inyong boto. Alam niyo naman, eksperto tayo sa panliligaw. Meron po dyan, sarili lang ang kayang mahalin. At meron namang tunay kayong mamahalin. Di na tayo magpapabola. Ito na ang tunay na nagmamahal at magmamahal pa sa inyo, ang tambalang matuwid – Mar Roxas at Leni Robredo!”
Aquino’s high-profile endorsement of Roxas stands in stark contrast to the invisibility of then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo during the presidential campaign of Gilbert Teodoro, her party’s standard bearer. The difference lies in the fact that compared to Arroyo, Aquino has successfully maintained a high popularity rating with less than four months left in his term. Check out the figures below:
*According to a survey released by the Social Weather Stations last January 2016, 61% of Filipinos were satisfied with the performance of the Aquino government. A total of 39% were either unsatisfied or undecided.
*Meanwhile, a survey released by polling firm Pulse Asia last February revealed that a plurality of Filipinos approve of Aquino’s work (49%) while 18% disapproved.
For Roxas, the calculus is simple. If Filipinos approve how Aquino and his government performs, then he can reasonably take the risk of positioning himself as a continuity candidate similar to what former Unites States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is doing as regards to President Barack Obama.
Now, the challenge for him is making sure that voters who approve of Aquino’s performance stay on his side instead of voting for someone else, particularly Senator Grace Poe.