Reinventing Mar Roxas

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Tuesday, June 17, 2014


REINVENTING the political image of Mar Roxas is a PR nightmare. The term, used by public relations specialists, refers to a client whose public perception is negative and needs a comprehensive and intensive overhaul and renewed build up.

Presumed to be the Liberal Party’s standard bearer against the frontrunner, Vice Pres. Binay, the DILG secretary lags behind his rival by a mile. All formal and informal opinion surveys put him in runner-up position. Can he turn around the certain momentum of his rival?

Criminality, not corruption, is the No. 1 problem of the country. As DILG chief who has control and supervision over the Philippine National Police, Roxas is in a position to reinvent his image. He can concentrate on law enforcement, run after the lawbreakers, and institute drastic reforms in the PNP.

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Binay trounced Roxas in the vice presidential elections of 20l0. The unexpected and incredible defeat burdens him with a heavy trauma. The vice president never rested on his laurel but has kept waging a day to day campaign to win goodwill and admiration.

What prevents wide public “amor” for Roxas is his seeming lack of common touch. His achievements are not notable. As Transportation secretary, he failed to fire people’s imagination on his programs and accomplishments. Clark airport is an example.

Now at the helm of DILG, virtually a giant net to catch votes and leaders’ support, Roxas has yet to show remarkable personal or professional achievements to impress the nation.

Roxas also antagonized Central Luzon residents by his failure to introduce genuine and honest to goodness measures to convert Clark airport into an alternate gateway to the country. He could have appeased the people from Region 3 to the north by working to develop CRK as the premier home for domestic and budget carriers.

He has tried to crack down the illegal numbers game which his subordinates in the PNP would make “dedma” of. The industry supports and feeds thousands of families dependent on the game.

If he has been harboring presidential ambitions, it was very easy for him to create his image as man of action, as a dynamic and genuine reformer when he was at DOTC. There he could have waged a no-nonsense and merciless campaign against the horrendous problem of colorum vehicles, by smoke belchers, and unregistered motorcycles, the modern scourge of the nation. He could have fought for the reduced minimum fee for text message cell phone users nationwide.

It is not too late for Sec. Mar to catch up in the public rating game. He could make a dramatic turn as peace keeper and law enforcer. The PNP that is under his turf should share him their better achievements by giving him credit for successful operations. The late Ramon Magsaysay, sensing political drama in the murder of Moises Padilla, rushed to Negros, lifted then cuddled the corpse of the slain mayor. RM became an instant hero.

There are hundreds of police cases, each of these sensational and mind-boggling. Sec. Mar should only exploit these and position himself to get a credit for the solution or ongoing operations. The PNP can create a real hero of Mar by giving him a lead role in successful Operation Plans.

A major police case solved with Roxas as lead initiator, will wipe out the PR advantage of Binay owing to his rescue and assistance to distressed OFWs. The capture of a high profile fugitive, with Roxas behind the operations, will neutralize Binay’s land title-awarding rites in selected communities which had been giving him brownie points.

Mar’s PR gimmick as “Mr. Palengke” caught fire. It is a wonder why no similar PR program was crafted and waged when he was DOTC secretary, and now DILG chief.

His initial operations in the Yolanda disaster areas even created negative feedback on his image. He should go back to Leyte, mend fences, and direct the doable and visible reconstruction efforts.

With former Senator Panfilo Lacson, who could be his vice presidential 20l6 mate, the two can create admirable and solid performances in two aspects. First, the team up as effective and dependable leaders of rehabilitation work. Second, imbued with Lacson’s police and military experience, Roxas can strike an imposing and formidable figure as chief enforcer and reformer in the PNP by availing of Lacson tricks.

The most dramatic and sensational act that he can carry out is to purge the PNP of scalawags, misfits, undesirables. Kicking out one or two hundred won’t hurt the organization. But it can empower Roxas with a new dynamic image. This will endear him to the citizens thus enabling him to catch up with Binay in the ratings or at least keep him at striking distance.

The first thing his PR strategist must do is to re-do Mar’s “unpresidential” hair style. The wiry hair strands, now spiking out willy-nilly, can be perm up and kept in orderly fashion. It will reflect the Secretary’s resolute and firm determination, his ability to stay focus, and no longer looks like the tricycle driver or “palengke” boy. Perhaps CDC director Ricardo “Bong” Baron can take his Ateneo classmate to his local barber to reinvent the future President’s haircut.

Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on June 18, 2014.

Opinion

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