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Our Thoughts on the Last Presidential Debate Before the 2016 Philippine Elections

Presidential candidates: Jejomar Binay, Miriam defensor-Santiago, Drodrigo Duterte, Grace Poe, and Mar Roxas. Photo: ABS-CBN screengrab
Presidential candidates: Jejomar Binay, Miriam defensor-Santiago, Drodrigo Duterte, Grace Poe, and Mar Roxas. Photo: ABS-CBN screengrab

ompared to the first two, this debate moderated by ABS-CBN was by far the best. So before anything else, kudos to the folks at ABS-CBN and ANC. Each of the five presidential contenders had ample opportunity to differentiate himself or herself from the rest—which should help voters make more informed choices on election day.

Jejomar Binay
Binay's performance this time was quite good. We like his idea of free schooling for all Filipinos. However, when asked how he could help Filipino fishermen in the West Philippine Sea, we thought his answer naive and ill-advised when he said he would ask China to "allow" our fishermen to fish unimpeded in areas of the West Philippine Sea while the issue is being contested by both nations.

Rodrigo Duterte
Duterte's honesty and sincerity came across loud and clear in this debate. However, his comment about risking death, by getting on a jet ski and planting a Philippine flag on a China-occupied Island located inside the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone, seems foolhardy at best. We're not sure what to make of a Duterte presidency; it could be truly great, or truly disastrous.

Miriam Defensor-Santiago
The Lady we saw in this debate was a far cry from the Miriam we knew just a few years ago. She seems to have mellowed-out and slowed down though there was still some of that fire left in her. Despite her protestations to the contrary, her bout with cancer appears to have dulled some of the edginess to her.

Grace Poe
Grace was her usual eloquent self. She appeared confident and fully conversant on all the topics discussed during the debate. Her idea of appointing a "traffic terminator" was music to the ears of Filipino commuters who spend hours on the road each day stuck in traffic.

Mar Roxas
Even more so than previous debates, Mar appeared on top of his game in this debate. He was well versed on all the topics discussed during the debate. He also appeared to put on a more forceful persona compared to his usual soft-spoken, mild-mannered ways. He also played the role of spokesperson for the Aquino administration, touting its achievements and successes. He made no radical pronouncements unlike Santiago and Duterte, and appeared to offer the country a firm steady hand at the helm. He also touted his years of experience in government, differentiating himself from Poe who is sees as lacking in experience.

Overall, we were pleasantly surprised that all five candidates appeared to have the best interest of the nation at heart. For us however, Mar Roxas and Grace Poe came out on top as both offered a well thought-out plan for the country. Miriam Santiago appeared to have health issues, Duterte appeared too cavalier, and Binay's plan to negotiate bilaterally with the Chinese ran counter to our stand on that issue. Let us know what you thought of the debate. Published 4/26/2016

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