Philippine presidential candidates Jejomar Binay, Miriam
Santiago, Rodrigo Duterte, Grace Poe and Mar Roxas. Inquirer photo
he first two-hour
presidential debate held this past Sunday in Cagayan de Oro was quite
revealing in that it brought together the top five presidential
contenders on to a single stage allowing them to present their views,
answer questions and rebut one another's arguments. While the format and
design still left much to be desired, GMA Television and the Philippine
Daily Inquirer deserve to be commended for putting it together for the
Here's how we believe each of the participants did on a "pass" or "fail"
Vice President Jejomar
Binay. Binay's performance was average. He made no mistakes, and showed
he had a reasonably good grasp of the issues. He was against the death
penalty—which we liked, but also seemed to vacillate with regard to
implementing the anti-dynasty provision in the constitution—which we
didn't like. Having placed every member of his immediate family in
politics, the Binay family is the personification of a political dynasty
in the making.
Because of all the
charges of corruption leveled against him, and his "average" performance
in the debate, we have to give Binay a "fail." He offered us no
compelling reason why he deserves our vote.
Senator Miriam Defensor
Santiago. Santiago's performance was likewise, less than stellar. Gone
were the firebrand antics and sharp retorts that once defined her public
performances. Age and health issues seem to have dulled her performance
edge a bit. When asked how she could manage as president when she had
missed so many workdays in the Senate due to her hypertension and
cancer, she offered no definitive statement other than that she was healthy enough to fulfill
her duties as president.
Defensor gets an "fail"
from us as well. She too offered no compelling reason why she deserves
Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.
Duterte seemed out of his element at the start of the debate but quickly
picked up his stride. While not as polished as some of his more seasoned
opponents, Duterte got his points across. He articulated a very
compelling reason as to why he deserves our vote: he would put an end to
corruption, drug trafficking and criminality within six months of
assuming office. While voter concern about his womanizing and his
involvement with vigilante groups are still an issue, we give Duterte a
"pass" for his overall debate performance.
Senator Grace Poe-Llamanzares.
Poe appeared the most articulate of the group. She did her best to parry
the blows of inexperience leveled against her by coming prepared with
facts and figures. She appeared to be the only one who sprinkled her
answers with information that she read from notes she had on her
lectern. While her eloquence was impressive, she was still unable to
escape the fact that she is woefully inexperienced. Her retort that she
can tell when someone is lying to her will not help her when a person
advising her is not lying to her but offering the wrong advice. Poe's
performance in the debate was very good but because the threshold to
overcome her inexperience is so high, we have to give her a "fail." She
failed to "wow" us or convince us that she can really do the job.
Mar Roxas. Roxas had
the lowest threshold among the five candidates on stage. He has sterling
credentials, has been in government for decades, and according to him,
has never been accused of corruption. Roxas appeared to have a good
grasp of the issues facing the country. He appeared the most
"presidential" of all those on stage. We give Roxas a "pass." Because he
has little or no negatives to overcome, as we noted above, he easily
gets our nod of approval.
The GMA/Inquirer debate
was good for the Filipino people. We'd like to see more of it before
election. From this one debate, we were able to determine who passed our
criteria and who didn't—just as every Filipino voter who watched it was
able to determine who they liked and who didn't make the cut.
Candidates join hands at the close of the debate. Lyn
With millions of
Filipinos now living and working all over the world, complex global
issues impinge more and more onto local politics, and the Philippines
needs a chief executive with varied skills and broad experience than was
required even just a decade ago. So more debates please so voters can
separate the wheat from the chaff. Published