The French phrase noblesse oblige comes to mind as Interior Secretary Mar Roxas grapples yet again with the dilemma of whether to run for president, despite the emergence of a stronger candidate other than himself.
Literally translating to “nobility obliges,” this phrase denotes the moral obligation of people of high birth or rank to exhibit honorable and generous conduct. From all accounts, Roxas was raised by his parents to have a strong sense of noblesse oblige.
That is probably why he chose to give way to Senator Noynoy in 2009. Of course, there was also no denying Aquino’s winnability was a result of the massive groundswell of support due to the death of former President Cory Aquino.
And although not many people still remember, Roxas turned his back on a thriving career as an investment banker in the US to assume the role as keeper of the flame in ensuring the family heritage of public service upon the untimely death of his dear brother, former Capiz Rep. Dinggoy Roxas.
History has called on Roxas several times in the past to perform a supreme sacrifice to fulfill his duty and responsibility to family and country. Now, it beckons once again for him to do what is right for the sake of our nation.
President Aquino has begun the process of talking with prospective administration candidates for 2016. According to media accounts, he has all but endorsed Sen. Grace Poe by declaring, “he is convinced Senator Poe meets his primary requirement: the capability to continue the programs highlighting the administration’s gains.”
In a radio interview, Aquino said he spoke with Poe “because we believe she is going in the right direction. We worked hard for [the gains of my administration].”
Supporters of Roxas insist he is still the official presidential candidate of the administration in next year’s elections. Notice how Liberal Party stalwarts are saying that Poe should go on an internship first and that a Roxas-Poe tandem is the better alternative.
But the problem is Roxas is doing poorly at the polls, while Poe, who has overtaken him, has emerged as a good option, even threatening to overtake front-runner Vice President Jojo Binay.
In the latest survey of the Social Weather Stations, Poe garnered 31 percent, placing second to Binay’s 36 percent. Roxas and Davao City Mayor Rudy Duterte were tied at third place with 15 percent.
So is Roxas still the best candidate for Aquino to choose as his successor? In all likelihood, Roxas will lose to Binay, who retains his solid voter base, notwithstanding the brickbats thrown his way.
President Aquino’s body language and pronouncements are very clear. He is considering other candidates because he wants his programs, especially initiatives against corruption to continue beyond his term. But how can this happen if his candidate succumbs to Binay?
The President should opt for the greater interest of preserving whatever he perceives as solid gains in his administration by getting somebody who is winnable and capable. But what continuity are we talking about if his candidate loses to Binay?
Aquino should stop thinking that he owes a debt of gratitude to Roxas because the latter “gave way” to him in the 2010 elections. The matter of choosing the next president transcends mere friendship.
He should not commit the same mistake as former President Fidel V. Ramos who endorsed the candidacy of then-Speaker Jose de Venecia (JDV) in the 1998 presidential elections because of their perceived closeness, as the latter was an loyal political supporter and an Ilocano, to boot. JDV lost miserably to former President Joseph Estrada.
Roxas should spare the President from the agony. “Country above self,” we believe, should be the mantra of Roxas.
He should make it easier for the President by giving way to Senator Poe.