Presidential bet Mar Roxas has dug his political grave deeper by saying he does not need the votes of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) to clinch the 2016 presidential derby. [*]
Roxas dished out the boast as Migrante, a militant group defending the rights of overseas workers, faulted the slow action by the administration of President Benigno Aquino against the recent bullet-planting (laglag-bala) syndicate which has been victimizing passengers, including OFWS, at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and provincial airports.
Roxas said the victims, not government, should be faulted for bringing bullets into the airport.
Migrante earlier warned the group would not vote for Roxas, Aquino’s former Interior secretary and standard bearer of the ruling Liberal Party.
Migrante and other groups have the right to vote or not to vote for any candidate, said Roxas, unfazed by the Migrante threat, in an interview in Santiago City in Isabela Province on November 4. Roxas is already facing rough waters in the race with his franchise at the bottom of surveys for presidential preference.
Roxas has consistently been lording as cellar dweller in recent surveys coming from both the Social Weather Stations (SWS) and Pulse Asia, miles behind independent (and currently disqualified) bet Senator Grace Poe and Vice President Jejomar Binay of the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).
The 2016 presidential race is expected to be a four-cornered fight between Binay, Roxas, Senator Miriam Santiago. and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who recently tossed his hat into the ring. Curiously, Poe was not known to be involved in OFW concerns as a Senator. And had yet to take a position on the laglag-bala issue.
The vote-rich OFW sector was expected to matter in the coming polls, with Roxas earning the ire of the overseas workers, lauded as “modern-day heroes” by his boss, Aquino, for their contribution to the national economy.
In what is seen as a fatal blunder, Roxas in the Santiago City interview defended the Aquino administration against public criticism over the laglag-bala controversy by blaming passengers caught by airport authorities with bullets in their luggage.
It is not the government’s problem if you are caught at the airport with contraband, he said.
Laglag-bala victims say airport personnel have been planting the bullets in their bags as part of an extortion racket.
The public has criticized the Aquino government and airport authorities for not immediately addressing the scam that captured international attention and further enhanced the already bad image the Philippines has. Even the United Nations (UN) has issued an advisory to its personnel to guard against the racket that has sparked an investigation by Congress and calls for the resignation of top Aquino officials including Transport secretary Jun Abaya.
[*] Originally published in Top News