Mr. Palengke’ is Senator Mar Roxas, the son of the illustrious Senator Gerry Roxas, and the grandson of the venerable President Manuel Roxas whose public service careers have greatly benefited the country.
Elected to the Senate in 2004 with a staggering 20 million votes, the largest ever obtained by a candidate in any Philippine election, Mar Roxas has made it his business to champion the people’s agenda on quality education, livelihood opportunities through small and medium enterprises, information technology, consumer welfare and good governance.
His concerns are national and his range international. His consistent performance as an exemplary public official has elevated him with the stature of a respected global leader. The Singapore government chose him as the 16th Lee Kuan Yew Fellow and the World Economic Forum acknowledged him as ‘one of the Global Leaders of Tomorrow who is expected to shape the future.’ He has been described in the international community as ‘one of the young leaders in politics and business who will bring Asia and the Pacific to the forefront of world affairs.’
Mar Roxas stamped his mark early at the House of Representatives where, as a congressman, he espoused consumer protection, underscoring the right of every Filipino to affordable medicines, as his personal advocacy.
This consumerist crusade found a larger expression in ‘Presyong Tama, Gamot Pampamilya’ program which he launched during his tenure as Trade and Industry Secretary. In the Senate, as chairman of the Senate committee on trade and commerce, this crusade continues with Mar’s primary authorship in the 14th Congress of Senate Bill No. 1658, to lower the cost of medicines by amending the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines. The measure is seen to bring down prices of quality medicines, resulting in savings for the poor, and better health for all.
Another priority measure he has filed will earmark 30% of total VAT proceeds, roughly P80 billion annually, into a “People’s Fund” to further narrow and eventually close resource gaps in health and education.
His heart goes out to consumers who are shortchanged in buying, among others, defective and substandard products. Thus, he has initiated inquiries, with the end in view of strengthening the Consumer Code of the Philippines, on such legislative proposals as the ‘Lemon Law,’ which seeks to protect buyers of brand-new vehicles.
He has also filed a bill, the Pre-Need Act of 2007, to improve and strengthen industry regulation and safeguard consumer interest. He first filed the bill in the 13th Congress, when the pre-need industry succumbed to a mismanagement-spawned financial crisis, which threatened to wipe out the investments of thousands of pre-need planholders.
Information and communications technology has found in Mar Roxas a staunch advocate. Hailed as the ‘Father of the Call Center and Business Process Outsourcing Industries’, he saw—and cultivated—the potential of the Philippines as a global e-services hub. As trade and industry secretary, he launched ‘Make IT Philippines’ and organized the first IT-enabled services (ITES) to the US which inevitably led to the biggest global industry names to invest in the country, thereby creating thousands of jobs for Filipino IT workers.
In education, he authored the ‘PCs for Public Schools Project’ to provide students and teachers IT access. Mar’s stint in the House is most noted for his principal authorship of RA 7880, also known as the Roxas Law, which ensures fair distribution of the education capital budget among all the provinces. This gave life to his advocacy for fair and equitable access to education, free from regional bias and political patronage considerations.
For Roxas, the exercise of public leadership entails accountability and transparency which should bring about people empowerment. He has called for a paradigm shift in policy-making, rejecting incrementalism, or the tingi mentality, which has resulted in ‘doing a little bit of everything and in the end achieving nothing.’
Mar Roxas has distinguished himself as a public servant in his own unique way, following the imprints of his forbears yet with the courage and competence to carve his own path as a national leader.