"The electorate deserves something more than sound bytes."
Banish the thought that a lively debate between the administration’s senatorial bets from Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) and the opposition candidates from Otso Diretso (OD) is likely to happen at all.
Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio said in February that they were ready for it, challenging the opposition to just name the time and place, and they would be there to answer any issue hurled against them.
But neither hide nor hair of the administration bets showed up at fabled Plaza Miranda, the preferred venue to test of the credibility and competence of poll bets.
Duterte-Carpio claimed the opposition seemed to be fixated on debate and that she would not stoop down so low and be the secretary of the opposition team to schedule the debates herself.
Recently, she changed her tune and said she would face all the opposition bets all by her lonesome, challenging them once again to just name the time and place.
But why would the opposition senatorial bets even consider calling her dare and be accused of ganging up on someone whose grasp of issues is parochial and limited to her experience in running Davao City?
The opposition team really wanted the debate to take place and to articulate their stand on key issues before the electorate that they even called on the Comelec to schedule the public debate.
Opposition bets Samira Gutoc, Florin “Pilo” Hilbay, Gary Alejano and Romulo Macalintal personally trooped to the Comelec to file the request.
Samira Gutoc, a Maranao from Marawi City who holds a Masteral degree in International Studies from the University of the Philippines and was named one of the 500 Most Influential Muslims by Georgetown University’s Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, explained their move thus: “Hugpong bets should be the most excited and willing candidates to engage in debates because they are backed by the administration, and if they truly believe that this administration has ushered us to progress, then they should have nothing to fear. I appeal that you debate with us and stop from committing this great disservice to the Filipino electorate.”
She explained that they lack the money for TV ads and big billboards like administration bets like Christopher “Bong” Go and the other billionaires in HNP.
A debate, Gutoc pointed out, would “level the playing field for them,” and having money and name recall should not be the sole basis for attracting votes.
Yes, we concur that that elections should be based on qualifications, competence and platforms, not how much you can spend for song-and dance routines and noted singers to sing your jingle, or how many T-shirts you can distribute to your descamisado constituents.
A spirited and frank debate on issues would have allowed the administration bets to really explain their stand on the main issues confronting the nation today, such as poverty. It would educate the voters and allow them to make an informed judgment come election day. Only the opposition bets and a handful of administration candidates have joined national TV debates such as those sponsored by the major news outfits. Now we know the stand of some candidates on important issues.
But missing were most administration bets, who are either so comfortable in their survey standings that they don’t want to jeopardize this or the others languishing in the lower ranks who would be exposed as total buffoons on national TV as soon as they open their mouths.
The electorate deserves something more than sound bytes and clowning around by senatorial bets, so we can really find out who’s real and who’s fake in this crucial political exercise.
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