It is not a paradigm shift or re branding. It is merely a case of presenting his best credential. Mar Roxas, once a decorated legislator and Cabinet secretary, has been releasing several television ads and social media posts underscoring his expertise in the field of economics.
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This is an excellent move on the part of one of the most brilliant public servants the country ever had. After all, Roxas is a product of Wharton School of Business of the University of Pennsylvania. He was an investment banker in New York and became an assistant vice president at a very young age for the prestigious American bank Allen & Company before giving up his lucrative job when his brother who was then the district representative of the 1st district of Capiz passed away in 1993.
His vast know-how in the fields of economy, business and trade are reflected in the laws that he authored and sponsored when he was a congressman and a senator as well in the programs that he implemented when he was the secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), a position he held under two different administrations.
Considered by stakeholders as the “Father of the Call Center Industry,” it was through his effort that paved the entry of the BPO industry in the country. As DTI secretary, Roxas launched the “Make IT Philippines” which encouraged the biggest global industry companies to invest and open their branch offices in the country and, thus, created job opportunities for the Filipino people. From 2,000 jobs when it started, there are now more than a million Filipinos employed in the said industry.
The good thing about Roxas is that despite coming from an old rich family and graduating from an Ivy League school in the U.S, he is not biased in favor of business capitalists and multinational corporations. While he promotes the establishment of an environment that will make business grow and become more productive, he believes that this should not be made at the expense of workers, ordinary folks and the middle class.
Misjudged by some as an elitist, Roxas, as shown by his work in the legislative and executive branches of the government, is in fact pro-poor. The laws that he helped pass and the programs that he initiated were centered on poverty alleviation, job creation, price control of basic commodities, budget for education, fair trade, incentives to foreign investors, support for livelihood and small and medium enterprises and other initiatives that will give the poor and those from the middle class a sporting chance to improve their economic standing.
A good example is the Cheaper Medicines Law which he fought for despite intense lobbying from powerful pharmaceutical companies. R.A. 9504, the law that exempt minimum wage earners from the burden of paying income taxes, is another example.
As DTI chief, he started SULONG (SMEs Unified Lending Opportunities for National Growth) to help small entrepreneurs like owners of sari-sari stores with their businesses. He also launched the Pinoy Pandesal Program that gives owners of small bakeries enough capital to jumpstart their business without increasing the prices of their products while his Tamang Timbang, Tamang Presyo program ensures consumers are protected from scheming and abusive vendors.
One of his most notable achievements during his stint as DTI head was in the 2003 World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting in Cancun, Mexico where Roxas led the Philippine delegation in fighting for an enhanced market access for the country’s agricultural and other products. He passionately espoused trade policies and agreements that will protect domestic industries in the country.
Undeniably, Roxas knows his economics. This is his forte, his specialization. This is what he is trained for. More importantly, he knows his priorities.
Roxas has shown not only the depth of his knowledge about the economy but also his over-all brilliance on matters relating to governance during the presidential debates in 2016. He displayed this again during last Sunday’s senatorial forum.
When asked about his legislative agenda, Roxas specifically mentioned the repeal of the provision in the controversial TRAIN law that imposes excise tax on petroleum products.
He also said that he will oppose the plan of the Department of Finance to remove the incentives granted to foreign investors who will do business here in the country.
Lastly, recognizing the important role of the internet in the regular course of business transactions, Roxas said that the telecommunication companies providing internet connection should be mandated to improve their services.
Consistent with his track record, Roxas’ priority bills when elected as senator revolves in easing the economic burden and suffering of people and promoting or ensuring the ease of doing business in the country in order to create and generate more jobs and livelihoods for the Filipinos.
He was able to do it before. It is absolute that he can do it again if given a seat in the Senate.
It the same forum, Roxas expressed his vehement objection to Chinese workers coming in the country to replace our own citizens in the workforce. He said that the jobs available here should be given to Filipinos who are skilled to perform the intended work to be given to Chinese citizens. He is also against the lopsided, burdensome agreements entered by the Philippine government with China.
That is vintage Mar Roxas for you.
A top-grade economist who has a heart for the people. An esteemed public servant who loves his country above self. Roxas is the economist we need. He is the senator the country badly needs.