EXCLUSIVE: Mar Roxas sees uphill climb in Senate comeback

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 19) — Former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas admitted Monday that he is nervous about running again for senator in the upcoming elections as he sees difficulties in mounting his Senate comeback, especially after a two-year hiatus after losing the 2016 presidential polls.

"I think it will be a lot difficult," Roxas told CNN Philippines' The Source on Monday. "I think it'll be very hard. I'm not taking anything for granted."

Roxas is the opposition's leading bet for the May 2019 elections, being their lone senatorial candidate who figured in the "Magic 12" in the latest surveys.

This despite taking a break from politics for two years and devoting his time to his family and travelling, which he documented through photos and videos posted on social media.

Roxas said he thought he had retired from politics for good after President Rodrigo Duterte defeated him in 2016, but he said that a "sense of duty" was calling him back to the fore.

"Feeling ko hindi pa tapos ang trabaho. I mean, okay ako, graduate na 'yung anak ko. But when you look around, marami pang dapat na gawin at kung ang feeling ko na, kung makakatulong ka, why not?" said Roxas, who served as senator from 2004 to 2010.

[Translation: I feel that my work is not done. I mean, I'm okay, my son has graduated. But when you look around, there are still a lot of things to do and if I fell that I can help, why not?]

Not just part of the opposition

Roxas was largely mum on his plans for 2019 in the months leading to the filing of certificates of candidacy, even as the opposition has reserved a slot for him in their Senate slate.

The ex-senator is part of an eight-man lineup backed by a coalition of opposition parties, including the former ruling Liberal Party, of which he is a member of.

But in his first television interview since being defeated by Duterte, Roxas said he does not consider himself just as a part of the opposition.

"Gusto ko lang linawin na hindi ako tumakbo, hindi ako lumabas mula sa aking private life para lumahok muli, para tumulong muli bilang tagapagsabi ng, 'No,'" Roxas said.

[Translation: I just want to clarify that I didn't run, I didn't leave my private life to participate again, to help again to say, "No."]

"Para sakin is ang bawat isyu may mga solusyon iyan and I am for those solutions," he said.

[Translation: For me, each issue has solutions and I am for those solutions.]

Prior to announcing his Senate bid, Roxas offered the government unsolicited advice on how to arrest inflation, which the Palace responded to with cold shoulders.

Inclusion Law pertaining to fuel and other basic commodities. Malacañang has approved the recommendation of economic managers to suspend additional fuel excise tax in 2019.

Speaking to CNN Philippines, Roxas suggested that the police be equipped with body cameras to solve extrajudicial killings, which human rights groups say has left thousands dead. According to government data, 4,410 drug personalities have been killed in anti-drug operations as of July 2018.

READ: Duterte: My only sin are extrajudicial killings

Roxas also said he is opposed to shifting to a federal form of government as it would create a "second layer of taxation, second layer of costs, second layer of inefficiency, second layer of corruption."

He said he would instead push for the strengthening of the Local Government Code in case he wins in the upcoming elections.