DOTC Secretary

Why Mar Roxas on DOTC is a politically astute move

Mar Roxas taking on the DOTC at face value seem to be a demotion of sorts.  After all, wasn’t this the guy just weeks ago being considered for Chief of Staff?   Ping de Jesus leaving may have opened up more doors than we could imagine.  The fall out of the Chief of Staff position, which diminishes Ochoa’s already lackluster stint at the Office of the Executive Secretary would have been a little dicey for the President.  At least in so far as his relationship with his closest political allies.  An appointment to the Department of Transportation for Roxas is a politically astute move.  What? Wouldn’t being the architect of Philippine progress wouldn’t be enough reason for voters to give him the Presidency in 2016?

Let me explain.

Aquino’s good governance program is essential to patching holes in the system.  This is his priority, as indicative of the first bills he has asked Congress to tackle first.  It is ministerial, unexciting work.  But it is the work that needs to be done.  The LEDAC23 bills for me, is an indication that good governance rank higher in the President’s priorities than say the reproductive health bill, or the freedom of information act.  And however we see what we want this government to do for us, the fact of the matter is, the Palace intends to fulfill its campaign promise of without corruption there would be no poor.

We’ve seen what has happened in the first quarter of 2011.  The economy slowed to 4.9 percent.  This, on account of government refusing to spend.  To be specific, the government refuses to spend money it doesn’t have.  In fact, the President has signaled that no new expenditure will be enacted without a corresponding revenue to balance it out.

This goes against the norm.

Typically, government spending is seen as encouraging economic growth.  We’ve seen nobel prize winning Krugman at the height of the last US recession pontificate that the US Government wasn’t spending enough.  Well, in the Philippines the question isn’t that the government shouldn’t spend enough, but that spending what it has been largely inefficient.  No bang for the buck.

One of the highlights of the Aquino plan is supposedly this public-private partnership project.  While Aquino’s good governance program is well and good, the nation needs— economic growth.  As we mentioned, government spending is essential to keeping the economy growing.    Mar Roxas going around the country building roads, trains, and sea ports isn’t good for a politician in search of a win in 2016?

One of the key drivers of former President Fidel Ramos’ success in 1992 was his stint as Defense Secretary.  The man was all over the place as Secretary of Defense.  He created relationships on the ground that when it came time to run for president this network help give him a win.

Something similar can happen for Mr. Roxas.

Building roads and trains and bridges will not only put his name on every newspaper and television if he does his job right, he will be the architect of progress.  If people could see an improvement in the way they travel by sea, by air, or by land, don’t you think they would notice?

Congressmen and Senators are elected all the time because they built school buildings and basketball courts.  Imagine, Roxas building roads and Ro-Ros.  The DOTC position, I argue is even better than the Chief of Staff position because it could show Roxas as the working secretary.  He’s the working politician doing stuff people need.

As a former investment banker, Mr. Roxas could understand the economic of each of these projects.  It gives him a leg up in what could work, and what wouldn’t.

And PPP done right?  With fewer corruption scandals only validates the President’s anti-corruption agenda.

Mainstream media gave the impression that the position of Chief of Staff was yanked from Roxas and gave him DOTC. That this is a win for the supposed faction backing Jejomar Binay within the Aquino administration.  If Roxas does his job right, this maybe his ticket to the Palace as President Aquino’s successor.

The DOTC job is the actualization of that old quotation, supposed curse: “May you live in interesting times.”

Aquino giving DOTC to Roxas is even better than the Chief of Staff position.

If Mr. Roxas can execute, DOTC could be the best thing that happened to him.  IF.

 

Photo credit: Talakayan 2010, some rights reserved.

Mar Roxas is new DOTC secretary

Former Vice Presidential candidate and Senator Mar Roxas formally accepted the position of Department of Transportation and Communications secretary. This comes after much speculation as to what his position will be in the Cabinet. Mr. Roxas is one of Mr. Aquino’s closest allies and remained an adviser even after the election that saw Roxas lose to Vice President Jejomar Binay.

The position of Department of Transportation and Communications secretary was vacant with the surprising resignation of Secretary Ping de Jesus. When asked how his department could speed up Public-Private Partnership projects, Mr. Roxas replied that he would study the matter in detail.

Mr. Roxas believes in the reforms President Aquino promised, and focuses to become part of the solution. Roxas narrated the events of his appointment saying he and the president were both surprised by Mr. de Jesus’ resignation. Ellen Tordesillas wrote an article saying Ping de Jesus was sacked.

If there is any indication about his future plan for the DOTC, Mr. Roxas noted, “Planes, boats and trains that is our world now. That’s the way our people move.”

A question was raised how he is to interact with Vice President Binay. The Secretary replied, “I will extend all courtesy to him”.

This isn’t the first time Mr. Roxas served in the executive department. He was Commerce Secretary before running for Senator. He rose to become leader of the Liberal Party and was poised to be its standard bearer in the 2010 elections. Mr. Roxas stepped aside to make Mr. Aquino the party’s nominee. He ran as President Aquino’s running mate but lost to Vice President Binay in the closing days of the election.

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