MANILA, Philippines - Transportation and Communications Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas on Wednesday breezed through a hearing of the Commission on Appointments (CA) and easily got its nod, with some lawmakers saying he can even be the country’s President.
“If Mar Roxas is qualified to run the country, then he is certainly more qualified to run a department,” Palawan Rep. Antonio Alvarez, chair of the CA’s transportation and communications committee, said before Roxas was confirmed by the bicameral body.
At the start of the CA’s hearing, Cebu Rep. Eduardo Gullas immediately recommended Roxas’ confirmation. No one objected.
The only question thrown at him during the hearing that lasted less than 15 minutes was from a friend, Sen. Panfilo Lacson, who asked in jest, “Totoo bang nagdadalang tao si Korina?”
Lacson was referring to Roxas’ wife, broadcaster Korina Sanchez. As laughter filled the hall, the senator said Roxas does not have to answer his question and then endorsed his confirmation.
Pressed by reporters for answers after the hearing, Roxas laughingly said, “We are trying very hard.”
Sen. Loren Legarda, who was Roxas’ rival in the 2010 vice presidential elections, also recommended him for confirmation.
Both of them lost to Vice President Jejomar Binay in the polls.
"We both ran for the vice presidency in a very difficult and arduous battle, and unfortunately we both lost," she said. "But that's over."
Mark of great humility
In his remarks, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile thanked Roxas for helping him get hold of his current position in 2008, when Roxas was still a senator.
He also agreed with Alvarez that Roxas could have become the country’s president, but gave up the opportunity out of humility.
“For him to give up that opportunity that was open to him in 2010 to run for the highest position of the land and to think of country more than self I think is a mark of true leadership for a man who would like to be of service to his country,” Enrile said.
“The fact that he decided to give up that position, descend to a lower level of political leadership, and to accept this position of a mere subaltern of a position that he should have occupied rightfully as leader of this country is a mark of great humility.”
Roxas, however, repeatedly evaded questions from reporters if he will run president in 2016.
He also denied reports that he plans to seek a congressional seat in 2013.
Roxas said his focus now is to pursue several projects in his department, including improvements in the LRT and MRT and the reconfiguration of the North Rail project.
The North Rail’s construction, Roxas said, important for the plan to transfer the Ninoy Aquino International Airport from Metro Manila to Clark in Pampanga to push through.