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.

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.

Why I am not voting for any presidential and vice presidential candidates this coming May 2016 election

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Top (presidential candidates from left to right): Jejomar Binay, Rodrigo Duterte, Grace Poe, Manuel Roxas III, and Miriam Defensor-Santiago. Bottom (vice presidential candidates from left to right): Gregorio Honasan, Alan Peter Cayetano, Francis Escudero, Maria Leonor Robredo, and Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.

Many of my friends, whether online or real life, have been wondering on why I am not going to vote for any presidential or vice presidential candidates this coming May 2016 elections. I have acknowledge that this election season, so far, is the most crucial in our recent history as this year is the 30th year after EDSA I revolution which means it’s already a generation ago and the current president is the son of EDSA I president Corazón Aquino who is Benigno Aquino III. So far, compared with two previous presidential elections I’d followed, most of presidential and vice presidential candidates have already presented their platforms once they are elected this coming May 9. Let me discuss every presidential and vice presidential candidate and why I won’t vote for them.

PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES:

JEJOMAR BINAY

No one can deny the fact that Jejomar Binay is one of the most ambitious among presidential candidates as he has been vying for the presidency since 2008 and supposedly planned to run as president, only gave up because former president Joseph Estrada had declared his intentions to run in 2010 presidential election and to prevent fragmentation of the lower class or masa vote that time, he had to slide down and ran as vice president with Erap and he won as vice president while Erap lost to current president Aquino.

His platform of government is mainly a continuation of the current administration’s one with populist and some reformist twists like deepening the popular Pantawid Pamilya Pilipino Program or 4Ps and amending the economic provisions of the 1987 constitution to align with the ASEAN Integration and future membership with Trans Pacific Partnership or TPP. The downside of his candidacy is that he has been embroiled with corruption allegations when he was the Mayor of Makati and has not answered those allegations before the Senate of course for political reasons and instead, he had preferred to connect himself with the lower class voters who can relate with themselves of who he is, from his physical appearance to his rag-to-rich personal history.

I won’t vote for him because I foresee that despite of his planned reforms on economic provisions in the 1987 constitution, which I have vehemently advocated for years, the country will not get better in the long run as he prefers to maintain the political and business establishments to be in their respective places beyond his presidential term. The country, for sure, cannot tolerate another president who has already have allegations of corruption before being elected as president and many his skeptics have already foreseen him as potentially worse than Marcos, Estrada, and Arroyo combined in terms of managing country’s coffers.

RODRIGO DUTERTE

Rodrigo Duterte is a reluctant presidential candidate like the current president during 2010 presidential campaign. He is only running for president because he is afraid that his opponent, Grace Poe, would win and have the United States dictate the internal policies of the country as she used to be an American citizen. He had always denied presidential run as late as during the filling of Certificate of Candidacy last October because of family reasons like initial opposition from his daughter, Sara, and his advanced age in which he admitted one time that he might die in office, if he is to be elected as president. In the end of the day, he declared his intentions to run as president last November.

His platform of government is all about revamping the system of government from shifting from current unitary to federal form like in the United States and fighting crime and corruption. His platform of government is the dream of many voters in the country who wants dramatic and systematic changes within their lifetimes and of course, there are oppositions from those who have been benefited with the current system. The downside however, is himself because he is willing to bring his style of governance in Davao City to national sphere which for me, it won’t work because local and national government political realities are far different respectively and many people cannot stomach his iron fist style of governance in the national arena due to experience during Ferdinand Marcos presidency.

I won’t vote for him because it would be difficult to fulfill his plan to shift from unitary to federal form within limited 6-year presidential term and also, his plan to fight crime would only deal small time criminals not big time one like drug lords and politicians who have been involved in crime. His plan to fight corruption would obviously enraged politicians, whether his backers or not, and thus, making his plans for constitutional reform difficult without their support. Therefore, his plan for a wholesale structural constitutional reform is improbable for the next 6 years. I won’t vote for someone who is expected to disappoint the people.

GRACE POE

Grace Poe became a presidential aspirant right after her victory as senator in 2013 senatorial election. Since then, the people had been expecting her to run as president because for a reason that she is the adopted daughter of movie star and former 2004 presidential candidate, Fernando Poe, Jr., who lost the election then due to allegations of electoral fraud ordered by former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Before her declaration of presidential candidacy last September, there were negotiations within the ruling Liberal Party to have her as the vice presidential candidate with Mar Roxas, of course, as presidential candidate. The negotiations broke down because Grace Poe didn’t want to become a mere second-fiddle of Mar Roxas because she knew that being a vice president under potential mediocre Roxas presidency would harm her chances of winning as president in 2022, had initial Roxas-Poe tandem proceed. After the negotiations broke down, she declared herself as presidential candidate and picked Chiz Escudero as her vice presidential candidate and right after the announcement, she led the opinion polls until Duterte’s declaration of his own presidential candidacy.

Her platform of government is actually similar to Binay and Roxas, which I’ll discuss later on, with continuation of most initiatives of current Aquino administration with reformist twists according to her declarations like amending the economic provisions of the 1987 constitution. The downsides of her candidacy are that, she has been embroiled with several disqualification cases against her candidacy due to problems of her residency in the country after she returned from the United States and of course, her foundling status where many law luminaries like Justice Antonio Carpio argued that she must be disqualified because the 1935 constitution, the constitution in force during her birth, never recognized her as natural born because she is a foundling.

I won’t vote for her because of similar reasons of not voting Binay as amending the economic provisions of the 1987 constitution only without planning to proceed to revise the rest of the constitution beyond her presidential term would perpetuate the political and social problems that have been suffering for years. Unlike him, I don’t think she would enrich herself while in office. Another concern would be the possibility of disqualification after taking office and have Chiz succeed her as president and many people cannot stomach to have him as president through succession not election and that’s the another reason on why I won’t vote for her as the country cannot risk itself another constitutional crisis that could put the country once again as one of the laughing stocks in Asia.

MAR ROXAS

Like Jejomar Binay, Mar Roxas has been vying for the office of the president since he was senator, way back 2007, and he had already campaigned for the presidency by the time former president Corazón Aquino died in August 2009 due to colon cancer. The death of former president Cory Aquino changed the landscape of the presidential race that time as many Cory supporters had been clamoring to have her only son, the current president Benigno Aquino III, be the presidential candidate of the Liberal Party. Mar Roxas, after several clamors, eventually slid down from his presidential aspirations and became vice presidential candidate of the current president. The current president eventually won but he unfortunately, lost in a close race to Jejomar Binay. A year later, he was appointed as DOTC secretary and another year later, due to the death of Jesse Robredo via plane crash in Masbate, he was appointed as DILG secretary and as a secretary DILG, he served as one of the closest advisers to the president to the extent that he had acted as de facto president in some instances.

His platform of government is really a total continuation of the policies of current Aquino administration and his presidential campaign right now has been revolving around the slogan of Matuwid na Daan or Straight Path in English. One of the downsides of his candidacy is that he is associated with the blunders committed by the Aquino administration for the last 5 years like his decision to terminate contracts for MRT maintenance, dismal handling of the aftermath of typhoon Yolanda, and inept dealing with the Mamasapano massacre. Another downside of his candidacy is his inability to connect with the majority lower class voters despite of his several posturings or epalisms since he was a senatorial candidate in 2004 and these voters have already been fed up of his actions and want someone who comes from their ranks which he doesn’t come from them.

I won’t for him because the downsides of current administration might worsen the country in the long-run and might tarnish the legacies of Cory and Noynoy presidencies forever through his incompetence in running the country. Without piecemeal constitutional reform as he promised, nothing will occur to our country for good. In other words, Mar Roxas presidency will be the maintenance of the whole status quo since 1986.

MIRIAM DEFENSOR-SANTIAGO

Miriam Defensor-Santiago has already been a presidential candidate for three times and her first attempt in 1992, she nearly won due to division of Cory Aquino votes between Fidel Ramos, Ramón Mitra, Jovito Salonga, and Salvador Laurel and division of Ferdinand Marcos votes between Imelda Marcos and Danding Cojuangco. In her second attempt in 1998, only less than million had voted for her due to Joseph Estrada’s candidacy, thus her candidacy back then was not taken seriously by the people. While her presidential dream had become elusive over time until recently, she has become a senator for two occasions from 1995 to 2001 and from 2004 up to the present and she has passed hundreds or thousands of bills that we are enjoying right now. For me, along with Juan Ponce-Enrile, she is one of the most astute politicians I’ve ever seen because of her ability to stand issues which can be liked by some and be hated by other, thus she’s not afraid of alienation as long as she stand with her principles.

Her platform of government is actually composes of needed social reforms that most of her potential voters, the youth, wanted like anti discrimination law for LGBTs or legalizing divorce. She has also promised like Binay, Poe, and Duterte, to amend the economic provisions of our 1987 constitution. The downsides however, are that she had only announced her candidacy when she thought that Rodrigo Duterte was not running until his eventual declaration in November and thus, her candidacy was unplanned and doesn’t even have political ads on free TV to disseminate her candidacy. Her health is still in question to some despite the fact that her doctors declared her as lung cancer free.

I won’t vote for her because I afraid that her cancer might reappear during her term and if gets worse and die in office, her running mate, Bongbong Marcos, would succeed her as president and people especially the older one who have grown up during Martial Law years, would surely enraged Bongbong presidency especially if he becomes president through succession not election. Another is that, the current presidential system doesn’t suit to Miriam’s style of leadership because she might be tempted to abuse executive power to apply her agenda.

VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES:

GRINGO HONASAN

Gringo Honasan only ran for vice president because Jejomar Binay had a hard time to find his vice presidential candidate as leading aspirants like Bongbong Marcos, had rejected his offer, so that, their future presidential candidacies won’t be derailed with an association with corruption-tained Binay. In other words, Gringo is a reluctant candidate for vice president.

I won’t vote for him not because of his history as coup-plotter during Cory Aquino presidency but because he won’t be that productive as vice president compared as a senator right now. His image has been rehabilitated because he has chosen to be a senator not to be as vice president or president that once he aspired when he made coup attempts against former president Cory Aquino and for sure, her supporters would be horrified with his presence in Malacañang.

ALAN PETER CAYETANO

In 2013, Alan Peter Cayetano originally aspired himself to be the president this year and in fact, launched an exploratory committee to find out whether his ambition to become president is feasible or not. The whole thing had changed after the Mamasapano Massacre as he used to be one of the proponents of Bangsamoro Basic Law or BBL and since he knew that BBL had become unpopular among the majority Christian Filipinos, he withdrew from supporting the proposed law and became an ardent opponent of it. His later opposition has angered the Moros who have been expecting the BBL to be passed before the closure of the current 16th Congress and since he knew their opposition and possible backlash to him if he pursued his planned presidential bid, he slid down to vice presidential race and Rodrigo Duterte picked him as his vice presidential candidate.

I won’t vote for him because he’s a typical airhead populist politician who has swayed supporting a bill which could have been good for the Moros for the sake of pandering the sentiments of majority Christian Filipinos who have been opposing the BBL due to lack of understanding with autonomy for the Moros and I don’t want to have him dictate whosoever becomes president in decision-making especially the matters like BBL.

CHIZ ESCUDERO

Chiz Escudero is perhaps, one of the most ambitious politicians in our generation because of the fact that he served as one of the ardent critics of previous Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration and many people have had adored his opposition to unpopular Arroyo that time. He was the responsible person who made Jejomar Binay’s vice presidency possible while at the same time, he campaigned the presidential candidacy of the current president who is his close friend. But, his friendship with the current president was not reciprocated by the latter during the first three years of the administration because the president had preferred Mar Roxas instead of him and that was the reason when the time Grace Poe was elected as senator and her presidential candidacy became inevitable, he moved closer to her and became her closest adviser as he used to be the closest adviser to her adopted father in 2004 and because of that, he was rewarded by becoming her vice presidential candidate.

I won’t vote for him because he’s an obvious a power hungry person and ready to back stab any politicians he felt never followed his personal ambitions to become president someday. Politics aside, he broke his own family by abandoning his first wife and his children to marry his current wife, Heart Evangelista, despite the fact that Heart’s parents had opposed her marriage with a politician like Chiz. If he becomes vice president while Grace Poe is disqualified while in office, he would become the president through succession and people don’t want to repeat the EDSA II fiasco anytime soon, so no to Chiz Escudero.

LENI ROBREDO

Leni Robredo like Gringo Honasan, is a reluctant vice presidential candidate, as Mar Roxas like Jejomar Binay, had a hard time to find his vice presidential candidate after negotiations with Grace Poe to have her as his vice presidential candidate, broke down due to conflicting ambitions. Since Grace Poe was already off the table, the Liberal Party tried to convince the widow of late DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo, Leni, to run as vice president for Mar Roxas. At first, she turned down the offer but after several weeks before the filing of Certificate of Candidacy in October, she finally accepted the offer of the Liberal Party to become its vice presidential candidate.

I won’t vote for her because for me, she is too premature to join national politics especially becoming vice president or president given that she had only entered politics, less than a year after the unfortunate plane crash of her husband in Masbate, and our recent experience shows that those who have lesser experiences in LGU and Congressional politics, have a hard time to adjust him/herself to the responsibilities as vice president and especially, president. The current president is the manifestation of that inexperience, although he had been 12 years in the Congress, he had a hard time to adjust to higher executive job as critics would like to say that his government is akin to a typical supreme student government in schools and universities. I don’t want the experience of the current president be repeated to Leni even though she is running for vice president. She should have run as senator this election instead as vice president.

BONGBONG MARCOS

Like Chiz Escudero, Bongbong Marcos is also one of the most ambitious politicians in our generation as being one of the heirs of Ferdinand Marcos and many people have expected that he could restore the upsides of his father even though many of those who have expecting him were not born yet during the regime of Ferdinand Marcos. Many Marcos opponents had taught that EDSA I revolution would be the end of Marcos political hegemony but they were wrong as few years after the revolution, Marcos family was able to restore electoral politics where Bongbong’s elder sister became congresswoman representing Ilocos Norte, he himself became governor of Ilocos Norte, and his mother, Imelda, has become congresswoman of Ilocos Norte today despite of her advanced age. As senator, he has never disappointed his supporters and has proved his critics wrong by passing several bills that have become laws in which ironically, many of those are being supported by the current Aquino administration. The downside however of his vice presidential candidacy is that he carries the baggage of being a Marcos and many people especially those who suffered the atrocities of Martial Law including the family of the current president, won’t accept to have him in Malacañang in the future as president, so while he is still running as vice president, they will find ways to stop him from getting the second highest position in the country as they knew that once he wins the vice presidency, his presidency would be inevitable.

Perhaps, he’s the most qualified person to become vice president but I won’t vote for him because I don’t want political dynasties in the national sphere be perpetuated with his future vice presidency or presidency itself. I don’t want also that if Miriam wins and dies in office, he would succeed her through succession because becoming a president through succession would become someone less legitimate in the eyes of the people and I don’t want to happen that to Bongbong. I have foreseen him actually as the winner of the vice presidential race because of the fact that he’s the only vice presidential candidate well known across regions and social classes.

CONCLUDING REMARKS

Even though I’m not going to vote with anyone of presidential or vice presidential candidates, but I’m ready to work with whosoever wins as president and vice president because I have already a vision for a better Philippines and I want not just the expected winners of this election but the future leaders to educate and understand my visions for a better Philippines be applied, so that future generations should enjoy before I die of advanced age.