My post-debate analysis of the second presidential debate

2nd Presidential Debate

From left to right: Jejomar Binay, Rodrigo Duterte, Grace Poe, and Mar Roxas (courtesy of Rappler)

I have mixed emotions on the entire process of the debate because of prolonged delay of the commencement of the actual debate as Jejomar Binay brought documents to supposedly present his rebuttal against corruption allegations and reportedly, Mar Roxas vehemently opposed it based on COMELEC debate rules where no presidential or vice presidential candidate should bring notes with him/her to use as references of his/her arguments against its opponents. There was really inconsistencies indeed, as TV5 had contradictory rules from COMELEC and created miscommunication between Binay’s camp and COMELEC and TV5.

Speaking of actual debating performances, I think Grace Poe outwitted everybody else because she remained herself cool despite personal tirades thrown at her by Jejomar Binay regarding her natural-born status.

Mar Roxas had an impressive performance but the problem as when Digong Duterte and Grace Poe both grilled him on his performance as DILG secretary in dealing illegal drugs problem and Mamasapano massacre respectively, he lost his cool and kept throwing tantrums to them to the extent that moderator Luchie Cruz Valdez warned him to rein himself as he ran out of time in answering Poe’s questions.

Digong Duterte had really difficulty articulating issues which didn’t have expertise in particular on climate change issues and he really sounded like a denier nut and really, missed a point on how to eradicate crime problems in our country within short span of time and Roxas actually swept him regarding the issue. Back of climate change issue, he had a point that developed and highly industrialized economies are hypocritical regarding the issue, but it doesn’t mean that our country should invest more on environmentally destructive coal power and instead, we should allow foreign investors to invest in much cheaper but cleaner natural gas or even nuclear fission energies.

Jejomar Binay really doesn’t deserve to attend the next presidential debate anymore because of his primary goal was to embarrass Roxas via slapping him with documents which it was an epic fail and aside to that, he sounded like a twat bigot who cannot accept the fact that Grace Poe is a Filipino citizen and has remained to be such for her entire life though she used to be an American citizen.

Supreme Court decision on Grace Poe’s candidacy is rational

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Grace Poe speaking as she announced her presidential candidacy. (courtesy of Philippine Star)

I have apologized everyone that this is my first blog post this month because for the past three weeks after the 30th anniversary of EDSA I Revolution, there were so much profund changes in our political landscape that would shape our country for next the years to come like the decision of the Supreme Court to affirm the presidential candidacy of Grace Poe, current senator and leading presidential candidate, despite oppositions from certain people ranging from different reasons like her naturalized American citizen or being a foundling.

I have decided to defer until at this point from making a blog post about the decision until I fully read the contents which I took for a week. Based on what I read on why the Supreme Court allowed her to continue her presidential candidacy were the following:

  1. Her natural-born status was presumed upon as our 1935 constitution – the constitution in force when she was born in 1968 – did not explicitly mention about foundlings although one of petitioners before the COMELEC First Division, Francisco Tatad argued that it meant to exclude foundlings like Poe using the rule of statutory constitution that what is not included is excluded. Our international laws, which we have been a signatory since the heydays of the enforcement of 1935 constitution, further treated foundlings like everybody else who have not been abandoned by their parents.
  2. Another fact from the residency issue was that it did not necessarily for her to be a Filipino citizen from the first day she reestablished her domicile in our country on May 24, 2005 and RA 9225 or law allowing dual citizenship for Filipino citizens permitted her to assume residency as a Filipino before she regained the citizenship on July 18, 2006 or more than a year later.
  3. Those who filed petitions to disqualify her forgot the fact that COMELEC did not have a jurisdiction in a petition for quo warranto against presidential and vice presidential candidates until they win in their respective positions. Thus, it committed a gross abuse of power in rendering decision which did not have a jurisdiction in the first place.

These three reasons aforementioned especially the last one are one of the obvious weaknesses to exclude Grace Poe from the presidential race via disqualification due to weaker understanding on the contexts of the framing of our 1935 constitution and subsequent statutes regarding natural-born requirement or residency of a Filipino citizen and being chained upon by the delusions of strict constitutionalism which deny the inevitable imperfections of a written constitution over time. In other words, they have forgotten that our constitution and statutes are living documents and interpretations vary depending on circumstances or situation changes.

Another fact that they have forgotten was the immediate and long-term repercussions of Grace Poe’s disqualification on the legitimacy of whosoever wins as president of our country. Since power emanates from the people, it would be impossible for someone’s authority to be respected by everyone if his/her opponent was robbed out of the presidency via disqualification or worse, electoral fraud; that was really happened under Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s presidency when her legitimacy issues never subsided despite of her election for her own presidential term in 2004 due to allegations of electoral fraud and months before the election, attempted disqualification of Grace Poe’s adoptive father based on similar citizenship issue she faced, 12 years later. The Supreme Court justices have been aware that implications and for me, it was a part of their discernment to allow Grace Poe to continue her presidential candidacy for the sake of future stability of our political system, regardless of whosoever wins the presidency. Although I used to be one of staunch opponents of Grace Poe’s candidacy based on residency issue alone, but I realized that I was wrong as I read the full decision and I think the Supreme Court made a rational decision on this landmark case and everyone of us should respect the decision, if you really care for the rule of law and the future stability of our country.

My assessment on presidential debate (per candidates’ performances)

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Presidential candidates with their respective podiums before the start of the debate at Capitol University in Cagayan de Oro. (taken from COMELEC spokesperson James Jimenez’s Twitter account)

Sorry if I’m already too late of posting on this assessment of mine about the performances of presidential candidates during the recently concluded first presidential debate sanctioned by COMELEC at Capitol University in Cagayan de Oro as the day after the debate, I had to roam about the city itself before I left for Cebu via Trans Asia 10 at around 8 AM and unfortunately, I could not accessed internet via LTE on board because my tab had low battery and I wasn’t able to bring the charger of it (went off when I was surfing Facebook while sailing around Southern Cebu before I arrived in Cebu City port) and thus, I have to post my assessment, more than 2 days after the debate. My assessment can be accessed also hrough my FB account as I posted it, morning after the debate and before I left Cagayan de Oro for Cebu.

Here are my assessments for each of the candidates’ performances:

1) Poe – she articulated a lot and answered all the questions thrown to her by the moderators well though some of her answers seemed to be a bit improbable like free lunch for pupils.

2) Santiago – well, her declining health had been obvious and stuttered a lot especially about the EDCA issue; nevertheless, her intellectual wit remained for somewhat and would have been a runaway winner of the debate if she was healthy.

3) Duterte – obviously, the rule of the debate didn’t resonate well with his temperament of being a feisty because he and the rest of the candidates in general, were time-limited in answering questions from the hosts and rebutting statements from their opponents and I think, if the debate format was similar to US presidential primary debate, he would have been a runaway winner; nevertheless, he really articulated for somewhat his federalism platform though about eradicating crimes, he was obviously under illusion that he could eradicate them within 6 months at most.

4) Binay – actually his debating performance was really all about defending his accomplishments as being a chief executive in Makati for years and dissing his bitter rival, Mar Roxas though he was able to articulate about his strengths on tackling poverty especially among farmers and actually, his plans are mostly realistic. The debate format prevented him to maximize his strength as a candidate and had the debate was similar to its US counterparts, he could have demolished Roxas or vice versa.

5) Roxas – he really articulated well about the accomplishments of the “Matuwid na Daan” mantra of the current administration but seemed to be focused himself on dissing Binay every time the hosts told him to rebut Binay’s statements. Therefore, he was all about stopping Binay and vice versa and think that there should be a special debate between them to show who’s really a better candidate.

Political machinery still matters

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Jejomar Binay raising the right hand of his running mate, Gringo Honasan. (credits to Yahoo!)

The official campaign season for national positions has already started since Tuesday. The official start of the campaign period signifies that candidates for national position can fully focus themselves in mounting a national campaign without accusations of electioneering that most candidates have been doing for months mostly via social media before last Tuesday. This period is the opportunity for the administration party to spend billions of pesos from the coffers to ensure its candidates to win the election to continue the policies of the current government have been laying down for the past six years. This is also the opportunity for the opposition parties to spread their platforms or sentiments against the current administration just to win support from many who have been disgruntled with the policies, way of governing, or some the person leading the administration.

This election season is way different from the past because of the emergence of social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blogs, and internet forums which has partially transform the way of discussing your political discernment as the new medium can able those who have internet access to share their sentiments to their friends or to the public within short span of time, seconds by the way, and can able to access news, blogs, or journals from government websites or civil society groups, anytime and anywhere to help formulating your political judgment on certain issues you are interested with.

The emergence of social media has been positive in democratizing the political discourse, though in a middle-scale and mostly enjoyed by middle class people like me right now, but it has not been entrenched yet especially among lower class people coming from the urban slums and provincial areas due to lack of internet access and most of all, lack of education about political participation and socialization due to abysmal educational system where students are trained to be followers not to be leaders because if they are to be trained to be the latter, it would threaten the rich politicians’ grip in power and might result to messy redistribution of wealth in favor to lower class people.

The lower class people without internet access comprise the majority of the Philippine population and the expected voters for the upcoming elections. Because of such reality, presidential candidates especially Jejomar Binay and Mar Roxas have been relying support from the grassroots typically from their political leaders like mayors and barangay captains who can mobilize their constituents who are mostly living below poverty line to vote for candidates who are being endorsed by their leaders. Presidential candidates have reasons to reach out with the grassroots because these people could make them president and at the same time, could overthrow them though unlikely these days.

Many netizens would disagree with me based on the title of this article alone, but we must be realistic with our political and economic situations where majority of the electorate can be still bought by politicians during few days before the voting day because of what I said earlier, lack of education about political participation and socialization and poverty where someone belongs under the poverty line have no disposable income to pay internet access just to access what’s happening in our political discourse. If we want to have our elections not being driven by political machinery, we have to alleviate our poverty rate and educate the people about political participation and socialization, so that we can build a numerous and strong middle class sector because these are the people who can discuss and make political judgment based on pragmatism not absolutism or emotionalism that most upper class and lower class people have been basing from respectively.

2013 election: most stupid election ever

An indelible mark in my right hand fore nail, showing that I already voted the election.

An indelible mark in my right hand fore nail, showing that I have already voted the election.

For the first time in my life that was yesterday morning at around 7:40 AM, I cast my first electoral vote in my life where I chose 12 senators, 1 party-list, 1 district representative, 1 governor, 1 vice governor, 2 provincial board members, 1 mayor, 1 vice mayor, and 8 municipal councilors of my town in Argao, Cebu. I went early to the Argao Central Elementary School at around 6 AM and while the polls had never started, I was roaming around the polling place and I found out the Board of Election Inspectors only posted the list of voters by the time I passed in some polling precincts. The PCOS machines had never been operated even beyond 7 AM in some precincts because technicians never came on time. Nevertheless, my polling precinct, where happened to be my classroom when I was Grade One, had opened, 20 minutes past 7 AM and I was able to join the first batch of voters in line and by around 7:35 AM, the BEI gave my the ballot and I started to vote my candidates who deserved my trust.

After I cast my vote, I returned immediately home and monitored the voting process through social media websites of Facebook and Twitter and established media websites like GMA 7. As I monitored, some of my Facebook friends all over the country complained several problems like PCOS machine malfunction, BEI’s non-issuance of receipts, vote buying inside the polling places, and others. On the same day, I went three times to my polling place to monitor the voting process. Fortunately, when the 7 PM came, the BEI were already preparing for the counting process in the precinct level and hours later, they submitted the results to the Municipal Board of Canvassers for transmission to the COMELEC headquarters in Manila.

While I was monitoring the senatorial election results at around 9 PM online, I was pissed off but unsurprised with the results where Grace Poe emerged in the first place and Nancy Binay in the fifth place in which until this moment of writing, they still hold their respective places as the votes are still counting. Not only that, convicted former president, Joseph Estrada won the mayoral race in the country’s capital, Manila over Alfredo Lim which pissed me off further. Pissed off because many of my compatriots voted according to family name not competence and experience and in fact, I ranted my disappointment to the people especially those who voted them online and realized that we will not going to move on unless we and the political elites realized our system is rotten at its core. Unsurprised because they were expected to win because of voters’ ignorance in voting candidates.

I realized that ignorance among voters was very endemic and cannot be fixed with short-term freebies by winning candidates, but uprooting the cause of the problem of our political and economic system embedded in our 1987 constitution. The ignorance of the people has been exploited by the politicians under the flawed system of voting candidates especially for senator. The senatorial race has become a popularity contest for the past 25 years and my entire lifetime, I never experienced a real contest on who should be the senator or in any elected position in our country through platforms but personalities, pities, freebies, broken promises, and many others. As a result, those who have enough billions can win a Senate seat or any elected position regardless of lack of experience, education, competency, knowledge, credibility, and sensibility. Those who are less informed due to poverty, have been exploited by these elite people in the name of “general welfare”.

My question to the voters, when will we learn from our mistakes of choosing leaders who could have uplifted us from poverty?. My question to the political and economic elites, when will you lose your respective grips in political and economic aspects of our country?. I think if I were to force the people and the political/economic elites to answer my question, they would say, I don’t know when.

Unless we realized that our political and economic system are rotten in their core, I think we will going to suffer more humiliations in our respective lives and keep ranting the faults of our country.