Philippines' presidential candidate Manuel ‘Mar’ Roxas is endorsed by Benigno Aquino

Mr Manuel ‘Mar’ Roxas, 58,  is the standard-bearer of Mr Benigno Aquino’s Liberal Party. The former Interior Minister comes from a long line of politicians.
Mr Manuel ‘Mar’ Roxas, 58, is the standard-bearer of Mr Benigno Aquino’s Liberal Party. The former Interior Minister comes from a long line of politicians. PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

MANILA -  Mr Manuel ‘Mar’ Roxas, 58,  is the standard-bearer of Mr Benigno Aquino’s Liberal Party. The former Interior Minister comes from a long line of politicians. 

An accidental politician

Although he  is the grandson of the nation's fifth president Manuel Roxas, and his father is former senator Gerardo Roxas, he had not planned on being in politics. 

A 1979 graduate of the Wharton School of Economics, Mr Roxas was an investment banker in New York for 14 years.

His younger brother Dinggoy was the politician. But as fate would have it, Dinggoy died of cancer at the age of 33 in 1993.

Dinggoy's seat in Congress passed on to Mr Roxas, and he held it until then President Joseph Estrada appointed him trade minister in 2000.

 
 
 
 

In 2002, he was named the 16th Lee Kuan Yew Exchange Fellow. Two years later, he became a senator, getting more than 19.3 million votes, the third-highest tally in Philippine history. 

Ran for veep in 2010 but lost to Jejomar Binay

In 2010, he ran for vice-president alongside his former university classmate and long-time ally Benigno Aquino. Although he led the pack for most of the campaign, he lost narrowly to Mr Jejomar Binay, a former city mayor.

A year after his loss, Mr Roxas was appointed as Mr Aquino's transport minister. Two years later, he was named Interior Minister.

Is accused of lacking the ‘popular touch’

Mr Roxas has had to struggle with criticism that, having come from a wealthy family, he is aloof, even arrogant, and that he lacks a connection with the masses.

"On paper, he looks like a competent technocrat and successor. But he lacks the popular touch," political science professor Richard Javad Heydarian, of De La Salle University, told Agence France-Presse.

Mr Roxas' wealth is estimated at over 200 million pesos (S$6 million).

He is married to television journalist Korina Sanchez, and he has a son from a previous relationship.

Mr Aquino endorsed him at the historic Club Filipino in Manila

It was there that Mr Aquino's mother Cory Aquino was sworn in as the Philippines' 11th president in 1986 after ousting strongman Ferdinand Marcos, and also where Mr Roxas announced in 2009 that he was dropping his own bid to become president to give way to Mr Aquino.

Mr Roxas has taken as his own Mr Aquino's campaign slogan "on to a straight path" agenda of steady reforms and fighting graft.

 “This is about the dream of all Filipino families to live a life of dignity, to rise up through hard work and to live with a future filled with opportunities,” he told reporters.

He wanted Senator Grace Poe as his running mate

In an interview in August, Senator Grace Poe confirmed that Mr Roxas had visited her at her home in San Juan City  and asked her to be his running mate.

Before that too, Mr Roxas made an appeal to Poe on national television for her to be his vice president.

“I told [HIM] he had many potential vice presidential candidates to choose from,” Ms Poe said then. 

SOURCES: THE STRAITS TIMES ARCHIVES, THE PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER/ANN