The first Presidential debate for the 2016 election


Last Sunday’s presidential debate held at the Capitol University in Cagayan de Oro City is still the talk of the town until today and not even the 30th Anniversary of the People Power Revolution scheduled tomorrow will eclipse it.

As we expected the debate only introduced the candidates to the people on their stand on several issues that keep on nagging the country and on the personalities of the contenders for the highest position in the land. Man times it was more of an entertainment affair than a debate on serious issues that are begging for solutions from any of the candidates in case they become President.

What irritated the people watching the debate on television was the long commercials. A debate that was scheduled for only two hours had 40 minutes of commercials. If the debate was sponsored by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and GMA television giant why would it need commercials? Had there been no commercials, the candidates could have been given more than 60 seconds to lay down their program of government or answer the questions from the debate hosts, Mike Enriquez and Jessica Sojo, of GMA television network. In fact the questions were sometimes longer than the answers themselves because while the answers were given time limit, the questions which were sometimes redundant were not.

It was obvious that Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago were the crowd pleasers either because they spoke the lingo of the crowd or because they were more supportive of each other rather than debating with each other when their turn to be paired came. They are now being referred to as the “Duriam” pair.

Duterte said that there were only two qualified to come President of the country in that debate – himself and Senator Santiago. When her turn came for her to speak Sntiago said that the country was suffering from criminality and drugs but none of the candidates did something except Mayor Duterte who succeeded to stop criminality and drugs in his city.

While not naming names, Roxas took pot shots at his rivals when he made allusion to the Presidential race as just like hiring a family driver for the children. One applicant he said is a theft, the other a hot head, still another is one who just learned how to drive while another one is sick but there is one who has been driving for a long time and has never subjected his passengers or harm. He was obviously referring to himself as the long and tested driver while the other description fitted Jejomay Binay, Rodrigo Duterte, Grace Poe and Mirriam Santiago.

Poe was impressive in focusing her program for Mindanao considering that the debate was in Mindanao. She came prepared with details and fact about what she was going to say. Binay, on the other hand, lacked content but that was perhaps because the questions either were crafted to put him on the defensive or he was too used to just going around in the “palengke” to shake hands with the people. For Mar Roxas, if he continues to just harp on continuing the “daang matuwid” spiel when people are suffering from continued high prices of prime commodities when the price of oil has dived to all time low, and criminality, notoriously illegal drugs continue unabated, they might just get bored and lose their interest in him.

So who won in the debate? It is not clear. Rappler said Roxas and Poe won. Other outfit who took samples of the reactions of the people who have watched the debate gave different scores like Duterte and Poe. Actually the winners cannot be known unless the criteria for scoring is one and the same. Anyway that was only the first of the scheduled debates by the Comelec and a media network – GMA. There will be more of it to be co-sponsored by the Comelec and the other media networks.

So let’s continue watching them and not only watching them to be entertained but to be able to make a decision on who to our mind should really win an become President and that is on Election Day where we will be the sole judge.

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