Mar Roxas, the Liberal Party standard-bearer for president, is confident that he will win the 2016 presidential elections — not by popularity contests, empty promises or arrogant remarks, but by concrete actions and programs that will uplift the lives of every Filipino.

This was his pledge and stance to his supporters – and to Filipino voters – at a jampacked convention organized by Liberal Party leaders and die-hard supporters, at Club Filipino, I,n Greenhills, San Juan on Thursday, April 14.

While his rivals — like Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and Vice President Jejomar Binay — have relied on their “glowing” popularity on empty promises and bellicose threats of bloodshed, Roxas is banking his campaign on the aspirations of ordinary Filipinos: a better, more sustainable living for them and for future generations.

“Ang laban na ito ay para sa disente at maunlad na bukas ng 100 milyong Pilipino,” the LP standard bearer declared in his speech. “Ang nasa likod natin: mga disenteng tao, na araw-araw nagbabanat ng buto at nagsasakripisyo para sa kanilang mga pamilya.”

Unlike his contenders, whose ambitions have been fueled by “arrogance” and “fear of going to jail,” Roxas contended that his campaign is rooted on providing a more sustainable future for the next generation.

“Mananalo tayo, dahil hindi tayo corrupt!” he asserted. “Mananalo tayo dahil hindi tayo astang-diktador! Mananalo tayo dahil tayo ay Pilipino.”

Expanded 4Ps, scholarships

In his speech, Roxas also dished out the accomplishments of the reforms initiated by the current Aquino administration, citing them as proof of people’s trust and confidence in Daang Matuwid.

“Mananalo tayo dahil habang nangangako pa lang sila, nagtatarabaho na tayo,” he said, citing as examples the four-and-a-half million beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or 4Ps, the six-and-a-half million hospital patients who received support from PhilHealth, and the ordinary students who are now benefitting from additional classroom and teachers.

The LP standard bearer pledged to continue the 4Ps program, with the goal of expanding the project to an additional two million beneficiaries.

He also bared plans to extend benefits to the “best and brightest” students in the country, with a pledge of a P100,000 scholarship fund for valedictorians from the Philippines’ 5,092 high schools, as well as a P10,000 allowance for the top ten of every graduating class.

Roxas does not see the P6.8-billion scholarship project as a liability, as some of his critics had charged, but rather, as an investment on the Filipino youth, the “most important wealth of the Philippines.”

“Sa ganitong paraan, tiyak makakatapos sila ng pag-aaral at makakahanap ng maayos na trabaho at pagkakakitaan,” he explained. “Hindi na magiging hadlang ang kahirapan para maabot nila ang kanilang mga pangarap. At magiging katuwang na natin sila sa pag-abot ng ating mga kolektibong layunin.”

Expanded transport systems

Poor transportation and heavy traffic have always been serious issues for commuters, especially in Metro Manila and outlying provinces. And as a response to critics who had always lambasted Roxas’ alleged “inaction” and “incompetence” during his term as transportation Secretary, he said he would further expand the country’s railway and highway systems, especially in the provinces.

“Sa ating maunlad at disenteng bukas, magiging mas agresibo tayo sa pagpapaunlad ng transportasyon at komunikasyon para sa ating mga kababayan,” he said.

Part of his expanded transport program included “decongesting” the crowded Metro Manila road network through such projects as the North-South road connector project, as well as expanded commuter rail networks to Calamba, Laguna and Malolos City, Bulacan.

“Doon sa Calamba naman, doon natin ikakabit ang modernong railway patungo ng Bicol,” he added. “Moderno; ibig sabihin, hindi patsi-patsi. Hindi rehabilitation, kundi bago, ‘yung talagang maaasahan ng ating mga kababayan.”

The program would also include “parallel” highway networks to Central Luzon and the Cagayan Valley region, noting that “Mas maraming kalsada–ito ang ating paniwala–mas maraming kalsada, mas maraming Pilipinong magiging kunektado sa mas maraming oportunidad.”

He also pledged to stamp out the infamous tagline attached to the Philippine airport system – “the worst in the world” – by prioritizing the development and expansion of the Clark International Airport in Pampanga as the main air hub in place of NAIA, noting the former’s expansive land area. He noted that “NAIA has only 440 hectares, while Clark has 2,000 hectares. Limang NAIA ang maaaring ipagkasya sa Clark.”

‘Agricultural Revolution’

Recognizing the vital role of agriculture in the country’s economy and society, Roxas also bared out his “Daang Matuwid Bukid Revolution” to empower farmers through capital loans; more infrastructure such as roads, markets and post-harvest facilities. “Ang resulta: Mas malaking kita at take-home para sa mga kababayan nating naglalagay ng pagkain sa ating mga mesa. Umaraw man o umulan, walang magsasaka o mangingisda na maiiwanan.”

He also promised a “full recovery” of the controversial coco levy funds, and would utilize it for education and training programs for coconut farmers and their families.

“Tayo ang Gumawa Nito”

Among other programs Roxas cited in his speech are a high-speed broadband internet service for schools and municipalities; a transition from diesel fuel to cleaner natural gas for the country’s energy sector, and a pledge to lower electricty rates though a more competitive power industry in the country.

And the end-product of all these programs? Simple, as the LP presidential bet had implied during his speech: inclusive growth for all Filipinos.

“Lahat ito, gagawin natin para makalikha tayo ng milyun-milyong trabaho para sa ating mga kababayan,” he vowed. “Sa mga pabrika, sa turismo, sa call centers, at sa iba’t ibang sektor ng ating ekonomiya. Ipapatupad natin ang mga batas para matigil na itong kawalang katiyakan sa sistemang endo. Sa ganoong paraan, sigurado ang ating mga manggagawa, ang ating mga nagtatrabaho sa kanilang trabaho.”

Critics might say Roxas’ pledge are nothing more than empty promises, but the guy himself has a rejoinder for his “more popular” rivals: who among them has a track record that will enable them to deliver their promises to the Filipino people?

“Habang sila nangangako pa lang, tayo, nagtratrabaho na,” Roxas pointed out succintly.

In the end, Roxas said his bid for the presidency is a sure win, all for a simple reason: he is banking not on popularity but on his track record – that, and the trust of ordinary Filipinos, who wished for nothing more than a better life for themselves and for their children.

“Tayo ang gumawa ng pagbabago,” he asserted, by way of conclusion. “Tayo ang nasa tama. Tayo ang nangahas at nangarap, tayo ang tumutoo sa ating mga kababayan, at tumupad sa ating mga pangarap. Tayo ang inaasahan ng mga susunod na henerasyon. Tayo, lahat tayo ang Daang Matuwid, tayo ang mga disenteng Pilipino, at tayo ang mananalo.”

He said Rodrigo Duterte is wooing followers by promising progress through killing criminals.

Roxas is debunking Duterte, reasoning that poverty leads to much more crime. So, Roxas is saying that better economy will solve the country’s peace and order problem.

Mar is offering economic progress. He would be the country’s “miracle man,” as political observers say it would take a miracle to lift the Philippines from the quagmire of poverty.

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