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Bacolod City, Philippines Wednesday, February 24, 2016
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with Rolly Espina

The presidentiables

Rolly EspinaI missed a big part of the recent Presidential Debate as I was out for my weekend lunch and some shopping with my family.

However, I got to listen again to the whole thing online. Prior to the debate, there was much controversy as to the exclusivity of the coverage for GMA network but it didn't really matter and perhaps even better since the replay online was without the kilometric advertisements.

As to who won the debate depends on who one supports. As evidenced by the reactions from various supporters who were interviewed post the event. In terms of the online meter reactions, I really doubt if it shows the real sentiments of the public since it can also be prepared voting by the various camps so they will look good in the post-event online survey.

I have always been open about my support for administration candidate Mar Roxas and though admittedly he remains lackluster or bland in his pronouncements, as Mar has always been, I think overall he was the one who gave concrete answers backed by evidence.

However, I wished he gave more tangible responses as to what his administration will do and not piggy-back on what this present administration has done, and not harp on just continuity of programs because there is much to be changed and assessed in what is being done right now.

I also saw Sen. Miriam Santiago lost her fiery stance and though she can still make people laugh with her sound bites, it is apparent that her health problem is getting in the way. Some were also saying she was stammering in certain points because she is not well-versed in Tagalog but overall, Miriam has lost her spark.

Sen. Grace Poe on the other hand came prepared and in most social media survey, was touted as the winner in the 2 nd and 3 rd rounds with Mar winning the initial round.

I beg to disagree. Poe has been very prolific in her answers and was the one who sounded professional among all of them with nary a negative remark against her opponents, but it fell short of knowing what really needs to be done in the face of the enormous problems of this country.

Her answers taking off from the point of view as a mother, as younger than most of the presidentiables and as a former teacher just proved the other candidates right that indeed, she does lack the experience of running this country.

In a presidential debate of that magnitude, answers must be on a macro level. To say that I can understand the problem as I am a mother too and I feel for the youth is too cutesy to make the business sector, the masses and the global audience believe that you are ready for the job.

Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte started off the debate defending his issue on womanizing and extra-judicial killing but instead of redeeming himself, he flaunted his machismo and though others may argue that he was just being honest, those kinds of remarks does not have a place in such a debate.

On certain issues though, particularly about Mindanao, Duterte scored a point when he stressed on the fact that most programs by the national government are concentrated in Imperial Manila. I think the local government units and those who believed in the concept of federalism actually liked his idea to distribute wealth equally among the regions or at least based on your contribution to the national coffers.

Perhaps this may even solve migration problems in Manila and bring those people back to their regions if development is equitably distributed.

As for Binay, I agree with all online surveys that he placed last because indeed, he was no match for all the other candidates. It was all about Makati and though he claims his little kingdom is the most progressive in the country because of his decisiveness, his answers are clearly wanting of how he is going to bring us forward as a nation.

It was all rehashed issue and though it gave you a glimpse on what these candidates will do in case they win, saying it is one thing, doing it is another thing.

Just take the issue of CARP and their answer of support services instead of land distribution. This has been the call for more than a decade now spanning three administrations but has anything been done about it?

As Sen. Miriam said, we can make pronouncements and a long list of what we can promise, but can we implement it, can we even afford it? I think in the next round of debates, that should be the focus for all those programs they promised, how will they fund it.*

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