Voters need to hear from all presidential candidates 

In a recent appearance on Christian Esguerra’s “After the Fact” program, Commission on Elections information director James Jimenez indicated he had a few bones to pick with mainstream media’s interviews of presidential candidates. He did not elaborate, and he didn’t have to. The two issues he cited were self-evident: Why were only five of the 10 presidential candidates being interviewed, and why weren’t they being asked about climate change, the Philippines being one of the countries most vulnerable to the impacts of planet warming? 

The issues are valid, and it is not Jimenez alone who has brought them up. But equally valid are the logistical problems brought about by having too many candidates. It is not easy to interview 10 candidates at the same time. There are considerable logistical problems and time constraints to be considered, not to mention the complications foisted on the public by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Clearly, the media have to be more creative than relying on pre-election surveys, which really do not give voters any real and substantive information about the candidates or their programs and plans of action. Unfortunately, that was how the media decided to choose which candidates to interview. 

In effect, even if they really didn’t mean to, the media were telling voters to choose from among the five only. Clearly, this is not fair. Neither is it right nor is it wise. 

Thus, we are placed in a situation in which we have to listen  to people who already are in the news every day – Sen. Ping Lacson, former Sen. Bongbong Marcos, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, Vice President Leni Robredo and Sen. Manny Pacquiao. 

And what did we get? With the exception of Leni Rodredo’s well thought out plans and programs, most of what we heard were motherhood statements, generalities and a lot of hot air. 

Let me cite Pacquiao as an example. In both interviews by Jessica  Soho and Boy Abunda, Manny Pacquiao exuded a lot of sincerity and kindheartedness (kagandahang loob). But he also showed a lot of naïveté, a propensity for oversimplification, and even chutzpah. 

Don’t get me wrong. I have a lot of admiration for the man – his rise from dire poverty by sheer hard work and determination, and his glorious record in boxing. But he has a mediocre record of accomplishment as a congressman and as a senator. He has shown nothing to back up his claims of knowing the country’s problems and having the ability to solve them. 

This is how he said he will solve our problems: 

On mining and environmental degradation:  I am not in favor of a total ban on mining. Mining is okay but it must be responsible. 

On the pandemic: Vaccinate,  vaccinate, vaccinate… but let us not deprive people of their right to work and livelihood. The government must improve revenue income so we don’t have to keep on borrowing money and imposing lockdowns…. I say,  we really need a long-term concrete plan. 

On poverty, hunger and joblessness:  We will strengthen the country’s economy. I will invite many of my millionaire friends to invest here. But it does not end there. We must give jobs to millions of Filipinos…. we must provide them interest-free loans… We must focus on production, distribution  and consumption; these form the bases of our actions… If we have problems with traffic, let’s build more roads, skyways, subways, bullet train… 

On Corruption: I really feel strongly about corruption… It will be my joy to see the thieves in government behind bars, all of them… I have many strategies to fight corruption, but I won’t reveal them so as not to give the thieves time to prepare…. No one will escape. 

On OFWs: We will help them…. My plan is to see to it that in our country, it  will be jobs that will look for people, not people who will look for jobs. 

On drugs: We will continue the war on drugs but in the right way. 

On the Philippines’ Debt: That is the main concern. We will keep sinking if we keep on borrowing…. We must increase our revenue and fight corruption and we must not spend more than what we earn…. I will put a rein on borrowings…. If we have enough money we won’t need to borrow…. That is my target, my mission – not to have to borrow anymore. 

On amending constitutional qualifications to be president: Requiring that a candidate be a high school or college graduate is fine, if that is what the people want…. (Education) is important because one has to know how to manage the country…. In my case, do you think I would have run for president if I didn’t know what to do? 

On why he should be president: I have experienced sleeping in the streets and going hungry. I feel what fellow Filipinos feel. I have seen the problems of our country, and having seen them I know how to solve them. 

Are the media saying we can’t expect better than that from the likes of Ernesto Abella, an independent candidate and a former presidential spokesman? Or from Leody de Guzman, founder of Partido ng Manggagawa?  

What about Norberto Gonzales, a former defense secretary and a member of the Partido Demokratiko Sosyalista ng Pilipinas;  and Faisal Mangondato, a Mindanao businessman and politician pushing for federalization? 

And finally, isn’t Jose Montemayor, Jr., a cardiologist running for president under the Democratic Party of the Philippines, worth listening to? 

For all we know, they may have better things to say 

Led us hope to hear from them and let us hope the interviewers will ask the right questions, especially the tough ones.  

What is your reaction?

In Love
Not Sure

You may also like

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *