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Mar Roxas’ faux pas on ‘tanim-bala’ mess

Ed JavierWas it another one of the overload of bad advice presidential candidate Mar Roxas has been getting from his vaunted communications team? 

We refer to that unfortunate statement attributed to Roxas in the wake of snowballing public anger over the tanim-bala or laglag-bala scandal now wracking the country’s airports.

Middle of last week, the media reported Roxas’ statement that the scandal “could be part of a demolition job against the government.”

The statement echoes Malacañang’s position regarding the mess. It also echoes the reality that Roxas is the Malacañang bet in the 2016 elections campaigning on a platform of repeating everything that the present government stands for and has done.

If the bright boys in Roxas’ communication team believe that the statement is a winner, they should think again.

Not only does the statement serve as a reminder that Roxas is selling himself as the clone of the incumbent president, it also puts Roxas in a situation where he will have to make a further explanation about a potentially damaging statement.

We explain.

The statement that the tanim-bala racket is “demolition job against the government” is dangerous. People could view it either as “speculative” or “a fact.”

If Roxas was made to state a “fact,” then he must tell the public what he knows about the racket. He must explain how he got the “information” about a demolition job against the government. He must, at least, give us a hint as to who he suspects could be behind it.

Roxas must understand that the public has taken this scandal seriously. People feel threatened. They are looking for the unseen hand behind their woes. Roxas must tell us what he knows.

Now, if Roxas is merely being made by his communication team to mouth a speculation, then he is also in for trouble.

By airing something that is merely speculative, then Roxas is playing with the public’s emotion. He is piggybacking on our collective anger and nervousness – and he is doing so solely for his own benefit.

Roxas has built a reputation for himself as the US-educated thinking man. He is supposed to be rational. He won’t say anything he can’t back up with either logic or reason.

His apparent speculation that the tanim-bala is part of a demolition job takes him out of that mold. It can only be interpreted as a desperate move on his part—a desperate move to win public approval or a desperate move to shield the airport officials close to him and the President whom the public wants crucified because of this mess.

Roxas’s communication team should be reminded that the public has not forgotten that he once headed the country’s transportation sector. And that sector has spurred the most anger among the public.

The sad state of the LRT, the mess involving vehicle plates and stickers, the scandalous situation hounding our airports— these are all reminders that Roxas and his successor failed to address major national woes when they were in the position to do so.

Right now, few appear to be buying Roxas’ line that the tanim-bala is nothing more than just a demolition job. Even if there were an iota of truth to what Roxas said, Filipinos don’t care. What we want is to be saved from the unseen enemy causing much suffering to innocent young people, travelers and overseas workers using our airports.

The people don’t care about a demolition job against the government. After all, this government, which Roxas hopes to replicate if he is elected president, does not need a demolition crew to damage its reputation. The face and mouth of its own spokesmen have so far been the best black propaganda against this government.

Finally, that unfortunate statement once more underscores the sad fact that Roxas is a stranger among his own countrymen. He does not understand us. He has no experience of the pain and hardships that the ordinary Filipino goes through in life. He is insensitive to that; immune, even.

At a time when a nervous public needs the assurance and the guidance of a leader, Roxas dishes out a speculative statement meant solely to cast aspersion on his political foes. This is, at worst, naivete; at best, it’s the height of insensitivity.

In the face of fear, speculation about a demolition job against the government, which Roxas wants to replicate for another six years is the last thing Filipinos would want to hear.

So far, the only Filipino leader who has said the right things about the situation has been Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

Yes—the very Duterte who some people identified with the Roxas group reportedly tried to do a demolition job on.

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