What Mar Roxas wants to do if elected President

Rose Carmelle Lacuata, ABS-CBNnews.com

Mar Roxas opens up about Yolanda, Mamasapano

MANILA - Presidential aspirant Mar Roxas on Wednesday clarified issues he has faced as part of the Aquino administration and explained programs he plans to implement if he is elected President.

The Liberal Party standard-bearer was the first presidential aspirant to be part of the "Ikaw Na Ba?....Ang Para sa Pamilyang Pilipino, The DZMM Presidential Interview".

On Yolanda

One of the issues that marred Roxas' image as secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) was the way the government handled the devastation caused about by Typhoon Yolanda in 2013.

For Roxas, the government did everything it can to prevent the devastation the typhoon would cause.

Nobody, however, imagined the effects of Yolanda, making it difficult for the government to provide aid immediately to the victims, he said.

"Malinaw din na ginawa ng pamahalaan ang lahat ng makakaya niya. Si Sec. Volts Gazmin, tsaka ako, nandoon kami bago pa dumating si Yolanda dahil nga sa lahat ng warning na napakatindi nito," he said.

"Gayunpaman, talagang hindi namin na-imagine, palagay ko walang nakapag-imagine, na ganoon kalakas. Ito na ang pinakamalakas na bagyo na tumama sa kasaysayan ng mundo," Roxas added.

Roxas also explained that he was only protecting President Benigno Aquino III, when he reminded Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez of his lineage.

He was also at the receiving end of criticism after a video of him saying "You must remember you are a Romualdez" circulated online.

"Kasi ginagawa ko nang tama, at ginagawa ko nang klaro kung ano ang gagawin ng local government, at ano ang gagawin ng national government. Sa dami ng pangangailangan, sa dami ng kakailanganing atupagin, ang nais kong paratingin sa kanya is hindi ko gusto na mapulitika ito," Roxas explained, adding that he was only trying to protect President Benigno Aquino III.

"So pinoprotektahan ko si Pangulo, gusto kong linawin kung anong role ng local government para hindi mapagbintangan na walang ginawa ang national government dahil Romualdez ang mayor. Napakahalaga na linawin natin kasi magkakaturuan," he explained.

READ: Mar: Gov't responded admirably to Yolanda

On the Mamasapano incident

Roxas also admitted that he almost resigned after the Mamasapano incident because he did not know about the operation.

He, however, hesitated, adding that he did not want the issue to be about him.

"Ang totoo, sumagi sa kaisipan ko 'yan, at in fact, pinuntahan ko ang Pangulo at sinabihan ko na kung wala na kayong kumpiyansa sa akin, you have my resignation."

"Ito 'yung totoong pakiramdam ko noon. Resigning is all about Mar. Na-slight ako, napahiya ako, hindi ako nasama sa pagpaplano, magreresign ako. Hindi naman ito tungkol sa akin, tungkol ito sa 44 na tao na namatay. This is not time for politics, this is not time for grandstanding, this is not time for papogi. Magreresign ka for... para que," Roxas added.

Instead of resigning from his post, Roxas said he focused on helping the families of the fallen policemen by providing them the support they need.

READ: At least 30 elite cops killed in clash with MILF

On the Bangsamoro Basic Law

For Roxas, the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) is an instrument to promote peace and development in Mindanao.

"Ang BBL ay pamamaraan para magkaroon ng kapayapaan sa Mindanao. 'Yan ang ating hangarin, 'yan ang ating ipapatupad sakaling palarin tayo," he said, adding that aside from the BBL, there may be other instruments for the improvement of the condition in Mindanao.

Roxas, however, believes that the most important thing that the law can provide is peace.

"Ang mahalaga rito, ay magkaroon ng kapayapaan. Hindi pwedeng umunlad ang Mindanao, at pati na rin ang ating buong bansa kung maya't maya may bombahan, maya't maya may barilan, maya't maya may ambush at may IED sa Mindanao. Sinong mamumuhunan ang papasok sa Mindanao kung mayroon ngang travel advisory?"

Marcos at Libingan ng mga Bayani?

According to Roxas, the remains of Marcos can only be transferred to the Libingan ng mga Bayani once Filipinos consider him a hero.

"Wala pa tayong closure eh. Natutuwa ba tayo sa nangyari noong Martial Law, anong nangyari doon? Bayani ba siya? Kung bayani siya, at napagpasyahan ng sambayanan na bayani siya, eh di doon siya sa Libingan ng mga Bayani," he explained.

"Hindi ibig sabihin na naging Pangulo ka, bayani ka," he added.

READ: PNoy nixes hero's burial for Marcos

READ: For the nth time, Bongbong speaks on dad's burial

On the anti-dynasty bill

According to Roxas, he is in favor of the passage of the Anti-Political Dynasty Bill, adding that it is important to always have "fresh air" when it comes to politics.

"Ako sinusuportahan ko 'yung anti-political dynasty, maraming bersyon ngayon ang nakasalang sa Kongreso. Ang mahalaga dito ay 'yung impluwensiya ng isang makapangyarihang tao ay hindi magamit sa paghalal o sa eleksyon ng iba pang mga tao," he said.

He also explained that there's nothing wrong if it is the people who vote for politicians from the same family. He, however, said that the number of politicians from a single family should be limited.

"Kung pinipili sila ng tao, ganun. Pero ang importante dito, isa-isa o dalawa-dalawa lang, hindi 'yung lima-lima. 'Ba hindi naman basketball team. Wala na bang ibang hanap-buhay sa Pilipinas? Wala na bang ibang pagkakakitaan?" Roxas added.

READ: Why the Philippines needs an anti-dynasty law

READ: Walang Forever: PNoy eyes anti-dynasty bill vs 'unli-power'

On the power shortage in Mindanao

When asked how he is planning to solve the problem of power shortage and 12-hour blackouts in Mindanao, Roxas said he will look into the possibility of connecting Mindanao to the Luzon and Visayas power grids.

"Kung may kulang sa Visayas, nakakahiram sila sa Luzon, at kung may kulang sa Luzon, makakahiram sila sa Visayas," he explained, adding that the energy surplus in Luzon can be used in Visayas, and vice versa.

However, since Mindanao is not connected to the Luzon and Visayas power grid, it cannot borrow the energy surplus from these areas.

To solve the problem, Roxas says the government is looking into building the infrastructure that would connect Mindanao to the rest of the country.

"'Yung Mindanao, hindi konektado eh. Malaking investment ito, submarine cable ito. Nasimulan na ang pag-aaral nito, at kung tayo ay palarin, isa ito sa ipa-priotize natin."

On Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program

Roxas said that if he gets elected, he will continue the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), despite criticisms from other politicians.

He added that the program, which provides financial support to poor families, is the government's way of ensuring a better life for Filipino families by giving them a chance to educate their children.

"Sa ating kultura, sa ating kasaysayan, lagi nating sinisigaw, edukasyon ang tulay sa magandang bukas. Pero sa katotohanan, marami sa ating mga kababayan, grade 3 pa lang, drop out na eh. Kasi hindi nila... kulang ang pangtustos sa pangangailangan ng eskwela, o kaya kailangan na silang magtrabaho, tumulong sa pagsasaka, o pangingisda, o ano man. So sa pamamagitan ng programang ito, ang bawat pamilya na kabahagi nito, ay nabibigyan ng tulong, para makikita nila na darating ang araw na makakagraduate si Kuya, si Ate, ang kanilang mga anak. Yan ay kongkretong paraan, hindi laway, hindi tarpaulin, hindi photo op, at apat at kalahating pamilya na ang naabot ng programang ito," Roxas said.

Although acknowledging that the 4Ps started during former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's administration, Roxas said that most of the improvements occurred during the Aquino administration.

"Ang ginawa ng daang matuwid dito, ay ginawa sa pangkalahatan. walang pulitika, walang chaleco, hindi tinanong kung anong partido, sinong sinusuportahan, pasok sila sa programa, at magmula 800k in 2009, ngayon, 4.5 milyong tao na 'yan, times five ang pamilya na hindi tinatanong," he said, adding that the program's implementation was previously hampered by politicking

READ: World Bank: Longer 'pantawid pamilya' needed

READ: DSWD stands by impact of conditional cash transfers

He also said that by improving the PPP, as well as other government programs like those under Philhealth, the government can ensure inclusive growth for all Filipinos.

"Lalo pa nating papalakasin, papaigtingin 'yung direct access ng mga programa ng ating mga kababayan para masiguro natin itong inclusive growth na ito," Roxas said.

On infrastructure projects

For Roxas, all the income allocated in the government's annual budget is used for the welfare of the people.

Citing the construction of classrooms as an example, he said that the government has already finished the construction of all the classrooms that students need.

"Nang magsimula tayo in 2010, ang kulang ng klasrum ay 66,800, na classroom shortage, classroom to student ratio. Pinuno natin 'yan by 2013, naitayo 'yang 66,800 na 'yan. Magmula 2013 hanggang ngayon, naitayo at naitatayo, hanggang 120,000 classrooms, at by the time PNoy steps down in 2016, it will be nearly 180,000 classrooms."

He also said that the government ensures that not only do students get classrooms, they also have the materials they need in studying.

"'Yung approach ng daang matuwid dito sa mga problemang ito ay hindi tingi. May problema tayo, kulang ang classroom. Anong ginawa noong mga nakaraang administrasyon? Halos pakitang tao lang eh. Nagpatayo ng 5000 classroom, 8000. Ang ginawa natin sa daang matuwid ay, tama, edukasyon ang pinakakapital ng ating mga kabataan para sa magandang bukas. Papano sila makakatanggap ng edukasyon kung nasa punong mangga sila nag-aaral? So itayo natin ang lahat ng mga classrooms at hindi lang ito pakitang tao. Siniguro natin na bawat classroom na yan, may guro. At bawat classroom na yan, kumpleto ng desks and chairs. At bawat classroom na yan ay may sapat na teaching implements, kasama na ang libro at notebook. Holistic ang approach eh. Tumutoo tayo. So kinumpleto natin para mapakinabangan ito ng ating kabataan."

On income taxes

Roxas, who was the primary sponsor of bill that exempts minimum wage earners from paying income tax, said he is open to the idea of lowering income taxes.

"Ako 'yung unang nakaisip nito, bigyan ng hustisya ang mga nagtatrabaho. Naniniwala ako na ang nagmamay-ari ng mga perang ito ay ang nagtrabaho para rito. At iniaambag nila ito sa pamamagitan ng buwis para sa kabutihan ng pangkalahatan," he said.

He, however, explained that the issue should still be studied further to consider the consequences.

"Kung papogian lang ito, aba eh di huwag na tayong mag-income tax. Napakadali namang sabihing zero income tax, di ba. pero, dapat pag-aralan ito kung ano ang mga programa ng gobyerno, sino ang mga taong matatamaan, anong mga serbisyo na maapektuhan dito sa mga usaping ito. Hindi naman ito in isolation, na sasabihin natin, pababain ang buwis. May kapalit na pagbabalanse 'yan," Roxas said.

Roxas, likewise, defended Aquino's rejection of the proposal to lower income taxes, saying that the president is only concerned about the interest of the majority.

"Ang pagkaunawa ko sa posisyon ng pangulo ay binabalanse niya ang interes ng pangkalahatan."

"Ang pagkakaunawa ko, bukas siya na pag-aralan ito, at tingnan, kung 30 billion nga ba, at kung ano ang kapalit noong 30 billion. Hindi na ba talaga tayo pangmatagalan, pangmahabaan, mawawala na ang 30 billion na ito, and so on and so forth," Roxas added.

For Roxas, the issue of income tax, as well as other taxes, is something that should not be used to earn popularity.

"Siguro sa init ng kampanya, sa init ng pulitika, 'yung kaban ng bayan, ang estado ng ating bansa, ay malagay sa alanganin kung basta bastang pag-usapan ito, na hindi malawakan at hindi masinsin ang pagsusuri," he said, adding that it is difficult to decide on the issue of taxes especially when the goverment is on a deficit.

On agriculture and investments

According to Roxas, the growth of the Philippine is hampered by the expensive cost of electricity in the country.

"Isa sa mga pinakamalaking hadlang sa pagpasok dito ng mga investor ay 'yung sobrang mahal na singil natin sa kuryente," he said, adding that he is planning to revise the Electric Power Industry Reform Act to encourage more power-generating companies to enter the country.

He is also looking at consolidating small, single family farms to encourage more businesses to invest in the Philippines.

"We have to find ways. Meron namang mga mekanismo, through consolidation, na magiging mas matatag ang kanilang pagsasaka, makakainvest sila sa mechanized," he said.

"Ang mga magsasaka natin are at a very big disadvantage, at para sa akin, ang pananaw ko, ang pamahalaan ay nandiyan para matulungan sila na maging mas matatag ang kanilang pagsasaka, ang kanilang pagko-compete dito sa mga ibang bansa na napakarami, napakalaking mga tulong na ibinibigay sa kanilang agricultural sector," he added.

Continuing 'Daang Matuwid'

For Roxas, the reforms and programs implemented by the administration, which he promises to continue, will help all Filipino families in achieving their dreams.

"Sa Daang Matuwid, mabibigyan ng kongkretong pagkakataon ang bawat pamilyang Pilipino na maisakatuparan ang inyong mga pangarap para sa sarili at sa inyong mga pamilya. Malayo na ang narating natin, marami na ang napagtagumpayan natin. Kayo mismo ang makakapagsabi ng kaginhawaan na naihatid na natin sa ating bansa. Hindi po natin sinasabi na perfect ito, pero palagay ko kayo rin ang makakapagsabi na malayo layo na ang narating natin kumpara sa nadatnan noong 2010. Kung ipagpapatuloy po natin ang Daang Matuwid, mas malayo po ang mararating natin," he said. - with a report from Jay Ruiz, ABS-CBN News