“The format was not perfect, but still it gave us much insight into the job applicants.”
Forums involving presidential candidates are good so the voters are assisted in choosing who among the candidates are worthy of their votes.
As far as the candidates are concerned, they should show up for these. Choosing to not participate in these forums raises a red flag in terms of the candidates’ sincerity in running for office, readiness to take on the responsibilities attached to the highest position of the land, and their capacity to face difficult issues hounding the country.
The recently concluded Kapisanan ng mga Broadkaster sa Pilipinas (KBP) Presidential Forum was an eye-opener for many. The format was not perfect. For one thing, the time limits for candidates’ answers should have been separate from the time limits for those asking the questions. The long questions took away precious seconds from the candidates’ answers that resulted in candidates being cut-off due to time constraints. Still, the forum managed to reveal aspects of the candidates otherwise unknown to a good number of voters.
Five (5) candidates showed up for the forum: Leody de Guzman, Isko Domagoso, Panfilo Lacson, Manny Pacquiao, and Vice-President Leni Robredo. The dictator’s son, Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. declined allegedly due to conflict in schedules despite reports that invitations were sent out in December.
The biggest disappointment to me turned out to be Ka Leody de Guzman. Perhaps I expected much from him because after all, he is a long-time activist and has direct experience in dealing with major problems faced by ordinary Filipinos, particularly, workers. By now, he and his group should have developed a progressive platform of government. After all, he is running for the highest position in the land. His readiness should not be in question. However, his answers were mostly motherhood statements bordering on sloganeering.
Ka Leody should learn to be concrete in his answers. As president, he will not be leading and speaking in rallies to agitate people. He will head the entire government bureaucracy and lead the country and people to hopefully, a better situation especially since we are coming from this pandemic that devastated our economy.
Ka Leody is full of idealism but very short on concrete plans.
Manny Pacquiao may have good intentions but he obviously lacks the knowledge and experience still. His nervousness at the start of the forum showed. He could use help from a good team in terms of understanding issues and governance. His visual aids did not help as well.
Pacman should learn that being president is not all about charity. If he becomes president, he cannot just give money, houses, etc. away like what he does with his own money. He will take charge of the people’s money and that is a huge responsibility.
Pacman should learn that while good governance should provide adequate basic services to the people, it should likewise create an enabling environment and encourage people to work and be productive instead of being dependent on dole. If all he wants is to do charity work, then he should just create a foundation for this. He need not be president.
Lastly, his optics remain to be that of a boxer. He and his team should start balancing this image with that of a statesman.
The “best in optics award” goes to Domagoso. Isko’s appearance during the forum was that of a respectable, credible guy, believable as president. That is, if we only go by appearance. Moreover, yorme has mastered the art of being populist on many issues. He can say a lot without really saying much. He is also good with motherhood statements that may be music to some people’s ears.
His three years as Manila mayor is not enough to prepare him for the presidency. Manila is not the Philippines much like Davao City is not the Philippines. He is not ready. Hilaw pa talaga.
That Isko sees no problem with his pocketing of the millions of pesos of excess campaign contributions when he ran for mayor puts a big question mark on his ethics as a politician.
Lacson also exuded the air of a confident and veteran politician, which he is. He obviously knows things but his being a fugitive from justice for heinous crimes he was accused of will always haunt him. “Kuratong Baleleng” and the Dacer-Corbito cases are HUGE red flags.
Journalist Ed Lingao’s question on whether Lacson’s going into hiding from the authorities was a precedent put Lacson on the spot. It was, indeed, a precedent for those who might be in the same situation this candidate was in. Parang sinabi na rin niya na kapag ikaw ay kinasuhan, magtago ka na lang. This is not a good example any which way you look at it.
It was unfortunate that VP Robredo’s internet connection during the forum was very bad. Reports said that she was on her way to deliver housing assistance to victims of calamities. She had to do this before the official start of the campaign period because this will then become a prohibited act. Her team persuaded her to skip other commitments but the VP insisted on fulfilling them all. So, she borrowed an office near the airport to be able to join the forum.
Still, the VP delivered. Her responses were clear and concrete. These were obviously borne out of decades of on-the-ground experience. Robredo knows what to do should she become president because she has already been doing many of these things.
What I liked the most were her answers on the question on political dynasties, rule on substitution of candidates, political party reforms, and turncoatism. These are very important issues that people should understand. VP Leni should have the opportunity to explain these further.
It is worrying that Pacman, Yorme, and Lacson see nothing wrong with giving money away, pocketing excess campaign contributions as personal funds, and being a fugitive from justice respectively. Assuming for the sake of argument that what they did were within the bounds of the law, these acts were morally and ethically questionable.
Lastly, nobody really missed the dictator’s son.
There should be more of these forums, and ideally, these should be done in the vernacular to be better accessible to many of our voters. We should know the candidates better.
@bethangsioco on Twitter Elizabeth Angsioco on Facebook