Manila: Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, an investment banker, was a former congressman, senator and secretary of a number government agencies under three administrations.
Dubbed as “Mr Palengke” as Trade Secretary of President Joseph Estrada, he gained popularity over his price-control campaign which often took him to wet-goods public markets.
Mar Roxas is a scion of the Philippines’ business and political elite, son of anti-dictatorship fighter Senator Gerry Roxas and a grandson of a former president Manuel Roxas (1946-1948).
Mar, however, is known to run away from “unnecessary trouble.”
He is perceived to be self-effacing, a “clean” politician but at times fiery, with outbursts of anger. His biggest liability, according to political observers, is having married Korina Sanchez, a veteran journalist, who is seen perceived as snobbish.
As fate would have it, he was groomed to run in the presidential race in 2010. But he gave way to Benigno Simeon “PNOy” Aquino III, who was later elected president, beating former president Joseph Estrada, who was earlier convicted of plunder.
Aquino is widely credited introducing a number of reforms and initiatives, including rooting out corruption in the judiciary, public works and finance – and running after tax cheats -- and unleashing the longest sustained growth.
Aquino has also launched massive infrastructure projects widely credited for bumping up help for poorest Filipinos through the conditional cash transfer programme that helped their children stay in school.
Roxas’ decision to slide down as Aquino’s vice presidential running mate in 2010 under the Liberal Party’s banner was entirely his own and did not come with any preconditions, Aquino later revealed.
Roxas ended in a cliff-hanger race, posting 13.4 million votes in the 2010 election, thereby losing to Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay by a margin of less than 650,000 votes (Binay gained 14.08 million votes).
Later, Aquino handpicked Roxas as his Interior Secretary following the death of Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) secretary Jesse Robredo.
Roxas, who has a degree in finance from the Wharton Business School of the University of Pennsylvania, started off as a reluctant politician.
He was working as New York investment in 1993 when his family asked him to run for Congress after his brother, Capiz Representative Gerry “Dinggoy” Roxas Jr, who died of colon cancer on April 15, 1993, at the age of 32.
Roxas became a senator after a stint as secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry under former President Joseph Estrada.
As DILG secretary, he had been recently portrayed by the local media as a bully and arrogant public official, a perception that has dented quest for presidency.
Roxas was forced to apologise following a barrage of criticisms after he allegedly abused a staff of Wack-Wack Golf Club, Manila’s most exclusive golf club, from which his membership was suspended for two months.
Roxas has denied swearing the club’s staff members who had asked him to pay the green fee for a guest.
On July 31, 2015, at an event dubbed as "A Gathering of Friends", Roxas accepted the Liberal Party's nomination. Aquino officially endorsed Roxas in the presence of their political allies at the Club Filipino, San Juan (the same venue where Aquino announced his presidential bid on September 9, 2009).
In declaring Roxas as his chosen successor, Aquino: “I want a capable successor who has no other bosses, but the people, no political debts to pay, no other interest than the country, who will continue the administration’s straight path.”
Liberal Party leaders said Roxas is “the man to beat in the 2016 polls,” referring to their war-chest and influence in local government units that Roxas heads as a Cabinet member.