Senator Mar A. Roxas
'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. MAR graduated from the Ateneo de Manila University in 1974 and the Wharton School of Economics at the University of Pennsylvania in 1979. Before entering public service, MAR worked as an investment banker, mobilizing venture capital funds for Small and Medium Enterprises.
MAR's public service life began in the House of Representatives in 1993. After his congressional stint, he was appointed as Secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry; and then in 2004, he was elected to the Senate with a staggering 20 million votes, the largest ever obtained by a candidate in any Philippine election.
Owing to his record of accomplishments as a public servant and political leader, the international community described MAR as "one of the young leaders in politics and business who will bring Asia and the Pacific to the forefront of world affairs." At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, MAR was named as "one of the Global Leaders of Tomorrow who is expected to shape the future." Recently, the Singapore Government has awarded him as the 16th Lee Kuan Yew Fellow.
Majority Leader of the House of Representatives
MAR joined the government in 1993 as a Congressman representing the 1st District of Capiz. He later became Majority Leader of the House of Representatives.
As a congressman, MAR espoused consumer protection, underscoring the right of every Filipino to affordable medicines, as his personal advocacy. His landmark laws include, among others:
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.
Mr. Palengke in DTI
In 2000, MAR served as Trade and Industry Secretary. During his four-year stint, he pushed for the development of the "palengke" as the basic unit of the economy and the root of progress, staunchly advocating not only consumer welfare and protection but also sound trade and investment policies, particularly SME development.
Education. MAR intensified his commitment to quality education through the Personal Computers for Public Schools (PCPS) Program, which distributed over 30,000 computers to 2,000 public high schools all over the country. PCPS computers provided some 500,000 high school students with the necessary ICT tools and skills.
Trade. MAR's work regarding trade policy was highlighted during the
2003 WTO Meeting in Cancun, Mexico, where he fought for increased
market access for Philippine exports, particularly agricultural
products and a rationalized Philippine trade regime so domestic
industries would not be unduly harmed.
MAR pioneered the establishment of high-technology industry centers and the promotion of the business process outsourcing (BPO) market in the country, particularly call center operations, hence providing jobs and incomes to Filipinos. From a mere 2000 jobs at the onset, the BPO industry now provides hundreds of thousands of jobs, thereby putting the Philippines on the map as a major IT/BPO destination.
Jobs. MAR worked for the reopening of the National Steel Corporation which provided thousands of jobs, income and livelihood to Iligan City, Northern Mindanao and adjacent regions. He also launched the Garment Export Industry Transformation Plan and Assistance Package to enhance the competitiveness of the industry and ensure its viability and vibrancy beyond 2004. Moreover, he initiated the Motor/Vehicle Development Program to promote exports, create a viable market base for our car manufacturers and secure jobs for our workers.
MSMEs. Believing that micro, small and medium enterprises or MSMEs serve as the prime engine for job generation, MAR pushed for MSME development through the SULONG (SMEs Unified Lending Opportunities for National Growth) Program, which granted almost P26.7 billion on low-interest loans to 281,229 SMEs on its first year.
Consumer Welfare. MAR promoted the Tamang Timbang, Tamang Presyo program for consumers to get the "full and best value for their money"; the Presyong Tama, Gamot Pampamilya to make affordable and quality medicines accessible to Filipinos, and Pinoy Pandesal, Palengke ng Bayan, among others. These programs promoted supply chain efficiencies leading to growth and productivity, and a wide range of opportunities and long-term gains.
Being the proponent of the philosophy of 'palengkenomics', which considers the palengke as the economy's weathervane and the mirror by which its over-all health can be seen and measured, MAR to this day continues to conduct weekly monitoring of the prices of prime commodities and maintains strong linkages with suppliers, traders, and vendors in the different wet markets.
"Price is an important economic indicator. It is a crucial determinant of activity in the market place," he said.
Consumerist crusade continues at the Senate
MAR's consumerist crusade continues with his authorship of Senate Bill No. 2139, which seeks to lower the cost of medicines by amending the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines. With the approval of this bill, prices of quality medicines are expected to drop resulting in savings for the poor, and better health for all.
MAR resolved to protect consumers from defective and substandard products. Thus, he initiated inquiries, with the end in view of strengthening the Consumer Code of the Philippines, on such legislative proposals as the 'Lemon Law', proper labeling of milk, toys, and food products containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and stronger safeguards against pyramiding and other similar scams.
As chairperson of the Senate Committees on Trade and Commerce and on Economic Affairs and as co-chairperson of the Congressional Oversight Committee on the Electronic Commerce Law, MAR continued to nurse the economy back to robust health through education, information technology, job creation, and development of small and business enterprises.
When the pre-need industry succumbed to a mismanagement-spawned financial crisis, which threatened to wipe out the investments of thousands of consumers in pre-need plans, he filed a bill, the Pre-Need Act of 2005, to improve and strengthen industry regulation and safeguard consumer interest. MAR's leadership at the time provided pre-need plan holders a veritable lifeline.
For MAR, 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 to 'doing a little bit of everything to please a little bit of everyone.'
"People can hardly feel the impact of incrementalism. Government must target the people's most pressing concerns and focus its resources on completely addressing these problems. We can't be doing what we used to do in the past simply because if we did, there is no reason to expect that the future would be any different," he said.
He complements his youth and dynamism by listening to the voices of the common Filipino, reaching out to them through personal interaction, the media, and various IT tools. His website, www.marroxas.com, is a sampler of his IT inclination, an interactive site that dispenses user-friendly information and serves as repository of public sentiment.
MAR 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.
14th Congress Senators