NAGA CITY, Camarines Sur (UPDATE) - His absence in opposition coalition Otso Diretso’s launch on the first day of the campaign season should “not be an issue,” senatorial candidate Mar Roxas said Wednesday, a day after he skipped his slate’s event in Caloocan to mount his own rally in his bailiwick Capiz.
Roxas was the lone Otso Diretso candidate who was absent when the slate was officially presented to the media in a café in Caloocan City, which was led by Roxas’ campaign manager Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice.
“Is that a disqualifying action? Anong issue (What's the issue)?” Roxas told reporters when asked why he chose to spend day one of the campaign away from the Otso Diretso ticket.
“Ako’y galing sa Capiz. Doon ako nagsisimula ng aking mga kampaniya at ginawa ko lang ang aking tradisyon,” he said.
(I came from Capiz. That's where I began my campaign and I did my tradition.)
Erice had told reporters Tuesday that it has been a tradition for Roxas to begin the campaign period in his stronghold Capiz. Roxas was elected senator in 2004 but lost his vice presidential bid in 2010 and candidacy for president in 2016.
Roxas belied allegations that he did not invite his co-candidates to his bailiwick in Capiz, leaving them in one of Metro Manila’s fringe cities that was dominated by President Rodrigo Duterte in the last national elections.
“In January, they were already there (Capiz). I invited them there,” Roxas said.
“In fact, nobody has invited me to their hometown. Ako nag-imbita ako sa aking hometown (I invited them to my hometown),” he said in jest.
The former trade and interior secretary said he would help “put forward” the slate’s platforms, but added that each candidate has his or her own challenge to face.
"Wag kayo maniwala sa surveys. Masyado pang maaga," said Roxas.
(Do not believe in surveys. It's still too early.)
"Ako mismo ay hindi ako masyado nagiging kampante at patuloy ang aking pagkakampaniya, pag-ikot, pagpre-present ng ating plataporma," he said.
(I myself am not complacent and I continue to campaign, go around to present my platform.)
Roxas said Otso Diretso's candidates, a mix of veteran lawmakers and new aspirants, were "very different individually."
“We all have our different challenges. Ang isa sa amin, nagpapakilala, hindi kilala ng tao. Ang iba sa amin, sa sobrang kilala, may mga trolls na nga,"
(One of us is still making introductions, not known. Some of us are already well-known that we already have trolls.)
“Iba-iba ang mga challenges namin so kailangan namin tutukan ang mga hamon ng aming mga kampaniya,” he said.
(We have different challenges so we need to focus on the challenges to our campaign.)
Roxas should not build a separate brand from the Otso Diretso slate, theater actress and staunch Liberal Party supporter May Paner earlier told Roxas’ campaign team.
“Mar Roxas is building his own brand. Cong. Erice you have to tell Mar na he has to join the team. His brand has to be Otso Diretso,” Paner said, addressing Roxas’ campaign chief.
“The truth is money is needed to win elections. Lucky for Mar he has it... We need Mar to support all of you,” Paner said.
Otso Diretso campaign manager and Liberal Party President Francis Pangilinan earlier told reporters that Roxas’ absence was normal in a campaign.
“Kahit ako nung tumatakbo ako, may mga panahon na hindi ako nakakasama sa slate. That’s how it is,” he said.