Mar Roxas

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Mar Roxas
Mar Roxas
Secretary of the Interior and Local Government
Secretary of Transportation and Communications
Senator of the Philippines
Secretary of Trade and Industry
Representative, 1st District of Capiz
Political Party: Liberal Party (1992- )
Born: May 13, 1957
Quezon City

Manuel "Mar" Araneta Roxas II is a third-generation Filipino politician. He is popularly known as "Mr. Palengke" for his trade and consumer advocacy. After a year of serving as the secretary of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), President Benigno Simeon Aquino III appointed him as the secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG). He replaced former DILG secretary Jesse M. Robredo who died in a plane crash last 18 August 2012. As DILG Chief, he now has power over all local government units, the Philippine National Police and the Bureau of Fire Protection. Roxas is the President of the Liberal Party.

He was put into office as senator in the 2004 Philippine elections, garnering the highest number of votes at 19,237,888 -- the highest ever by a national candidate in any Philippine election. In the 2010 Philippine elections, he initially expressed his interest to run as President but gave way to then senator Benigno Aquino III due to a popular clamor for the latter's presidential bid after the death of former President Corazon Aquino. Roxas ran for Vice President but narrowly lost to then Makati mayor Jejomar Binay.


Early life and education

Roxas was born in Manila on May 13 1957. He is the son of former Senator Gerry Roxas and he had two other siblings: Maria Lourdes, and the late Congressman Gerardo Roxas, Jr. He is also the grandson of President Manuel Roxas. He studied and graduated elementary and high school from the Ateneo de Manila in 1970 and 1974, respectively. He then earned a degree in Economics from the Wharton School of Economics at the University of Pennsylvania in 1979.


After graduating from college in 1979, he first worked as an investment banker in New York, and then at Allen & Company, where he became assistant vice president of the New York-based company.

He left the United States in December 26, 1985 to join Corazon Aquino's presidential campaign in the Philippines after a snap election was called by Ferdinand Marcos. To show further support for the Aquinos, Roxas was also one of the organizers of a series of investment round-table discussions with the American business community when Cory Aquino went to the States in September 1986.

Political career

Roxas first ran for public office in 1992 when his brother, Gerardo Roxas Jr., then congressman of the First District of Capiz, died of cancer. Mar decided to run in the special elections to replace his brother, and won.

Before he entered public service, he already began working for his advocacies and agenda on quality education, livelihood opportunities (through small and medium enterprise), health care, and transparency and accountability in the government.

He was elected to the House of Representatives in 1993, where he lobbied for the Filipino rights to quality affordable medicine and consumer protection. He then became Majority Floor Leader during his term.

Some of the laws he promoted and authored during his term as congressman were the following:

  • Republic Act No. 8759 - establishing in all municipalities a Public Employment Service Office which serves as employment facilitation and information center, and links all job opportunities within the region;
  • Republic Act No. 8748 - amending the Special Economic Zone Act by directly allocating to the municipality or city 2% (out of the 5%) gross tax to be collected from the establishments operating in the ecozone and providing for disturbance compensation for persons to be displaced or evicted by publicly-owned ecozones;
  • Republic Act No. 8756 - incentivizing the establishment of regional headquarters to encourage investment and operation of multinational companies in the country and to generate more jobs.
  • Republic Act No. 7880 (Roxas Law) - fair distribution of the education capital budget among all the provinces. This started his advocacy for fair and equitable access to education, free from regional bias and political patronage considerations

After almost seven years in the Congress, he was appointed as Secretary to the Department of Trade and Industry during the Estrada Administration in 2000. During his four-year term, he promoted the development of SMEs (small and medium enterprises), particularly of the palengke, and he considers them the basic unit of economy and root of progress. Because of this advocacy, he was called Mr. Palengke. He still continued on working for consumer protection through the Presyong Tama, Gamot Pampamilya program which benefited millions of Filipinos in need quality and affordable medicines.

While working as the Department of Trade and Industry secretary, he also worked on his commitment to quality education. He initiated the Personal Computers for Public Schools (PCPS) Program, to which 2,000 public schools were gifted 30,000 computers all over the country. PCPS also provided information communication and technology tools and skills to almost 500,000 high school students.

In 2004, he was elected into the Senate and earned the most number of votes obtained by a candidate in Philippine election. Mar was the principal author of the Magna Carta for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) or RA 9501. It was signed into law on May 23, 2008.

He still continued on his advocacy for cheap medicine and consumer rights, and authored Republic Act No. 9502, or the Cheaper and Quality Medicines Act of 2008 which was signed in June 2008. Serving for two consecutive terms, Roxas chaired various Senate committees such as trade and commerce, education, and economic affairs.

Roxas also authored RA 9504 or the Tax Exemption on Minimum Wage Earners. Also included in the exemption are all holiday, night differential, hazard, and overtime pay received by minimum wage earners.


  • As chair of the Senate Committee on Trade and Industry, he continues to protect consumers from defective and substandard products by proposing for proper labeling of products and stronger safeguards against pyramiding and other similar scams.
  • He also the Pre-Need Act of 2005, when the pre-need industry was threatened, to improve and strengthen industry regulations and safeguard consumer interest.
  • Holding also the chair position for the Senate Committee on Education, he authored the Omnibus Education Reform Bill, seeking to strengthen the Philippine education system through "interventions on the quality of teachers, the medium of instruction, and the evaluation of students’ aptitude, among others", written as a ten-year strategic educational reform agenda.
  • Mar has also called for the realigning of the 2009 National Budget to adapt to the worldwide financial crisis.

2010 candidacy

Early in 2009, Roxas expressed his determination to run for the highest office in 2010 and insisted that he would like Senator Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III as his running mate. His Liberal Party (LP) colleagues have endorsed him as the party's standard bearer—Aquino declared him LP candidate for 2010 and LP chair emeritus Jovito Salonga introduced him as "the next president of the Philippine republic." Former LP chair Franklin Drilon also pronounced Roxas as the standard bearer.

On 2 September, Roxas dropped his bid for the 2010 presidency when he announced his support of Aquino's candidacy, following the death of Aquino's mother former President Corazon Aquino. On 28 November, Aquino and Roxas filed their certificates of candidacy (COCs) for president and vice president, respectively. He placed second in the vice-presidential race to Binay.

Roxas filed an electoral protest to the Presidential Electoral Tribunal of the Supreme Court of the Philippines (SC).

Department Secretary

On 7 June 2011, President Aquino announced Roxas' appointment as Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) secretary. Roxas, who was earlier rumored to be the next Presidential Chief-of-Staff, will replace outgoing secretary Jose de Jesus on 1 July 2011. He served in this capacity for 16 months. As DOTC Secretary, he undertook corrective actions that resulted in safety upgrades from the technical aviation agencies of the US, EU, and UN. He also initiated plans to extend the Manila Light Rail Transit System Line 1 (LRT-1) up to Bacoor in Cavite. The said project is expected to be completed in Q1 2019. On the other hand, LRT-2's extension project or the Masinag Extension was approved by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) in September 2012.

Roxas spearheaded improvements in the delivery of aviation services through rapid exit taxi ways and peak hour rules. It was also during his leadership that the Air Passenger Bill of Rights was planned, drafted, and approved. In July 2012, Roxas worked with President Aquino to issue the necessary regulation (EO No. 75 s. 2012). Over 80,000 seafarers on-board EU registered ships were safeguarded.

He was subsequently appointed as Secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) in 2012. Among the significant projects of the department under his leadership were:

  • SalinTubig (Sagana at Ligtas na Tubig Para sa Lahat) with Department of Health (DOH) and National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC): Supplied water systems to waterless communities around the country
  • Bottom-up Budgeting (BuB): Enabled municipalities/cities in some of the poorest regions of the country to determine their own welfare projects
  • Oplan Listo: The government's checklist to prepare for natural disasters
  • Oplan Lambat-Sibat: Installed checkpoints and patrols in areas of high-crime incidence and audited reports to discourage manipulation of crime figures
  • Upgraded firefighting capability through the procurement of brand new fire trucks
  • Spearheaded the distribution of Philippine National Police (PNP) patrol jeeps to 1,490 municipalities
  • Project SAFE KAm: Utilized closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras to aid the arrest of criminals and deter the occurrence of crimes in high traffic areas

2016 candidacy

On July 31, 2015, Roxas accepted the endorsement and support of President Aquino at Club Filipino in San Juan City. In September 2015, he passed the torch of DILG leadership to Mel Sarmiento.

Awards and recognition

  • In 1996, Roxas was recognized by the World Economic Forum as "one of the Global Leaders of Tomorrow who are expected to shape the future."
  • On 1999, "Political Leader of the New Millennium" by AsiaWeek Magazine
  • 16th Lee Kuan Yew Fellow by the Singapore government
  • On February 16, 2007, E-Champion Award by the E-Services Philippines
  • On September 18, 2007,Palanca Awards Gawad Dangal ng Lahi by CP Group Chairman Carlos Palanca III, Palanca Foundation Director General Sylvia Palanca-Quirino and Deputy Director General Christine Quirino-Pacheco.


Roxas married ABS-CBN broadcaster Korina Sanchez in a simple wedding ceremony held at Santo Domingo Church in Quezon City on October 27, 2009. Roxas' running mate on the 2010 election, then Senator Noynoy Aquino---who happened to be a former boyfriend of Sanchez---became one of the couple's godfather. A number of guests from politically-influential clans were present. Manila Philharmonic Orchestra and the Philippine Madrigal Singers provided the music during the wedding. Other notable performers included Basil Valdez, Robert Sena, and Jamie Rivera.


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