2nd PiliPinas Debates: A Variety Show



To be honest, I never catch up the full coverage of the 2nd PiliPinas Debates. From what I caught up however, it may seem to sum up all what happened yesterday: a sketch show.

But first, let’s go through the highlights. Miriam Defensor-Santiago was not able to attend, due to her medication, for the better. Each candidate stood by his or her takes on issues like legalizing divorce, returning death penalty and transferring the remains of Ferdinand Marcos to the Heroes’ Cemetery? Also, each presented his or her platforms and asked each other about their credibility. All are presented in a well-respected manner. Well, that is what benefits I can shed out of the Visayas leg of the presidential debates. I guess the notorious incompetency of yesterday’s debates is more interesting than the debates itself, am I right?

I guess we can talk about the issue of Jejomar Binay bringing notes in the podium. Having initially learned this as a minor issue, I became baffled on learning for the fact that it was one of the most frustrating factors of the debate’s delay. According to an article from Malaya.com.ph, the intended 4:00 pm debate was delayed, due to a disagreement instigated by Manuel Roxas III to the camp of the former Makati City mayor for the latter bringing notes onstage. Binay had this discussed with the COMELEC who stated the bringing of notes is not allowed. Throwing salt in the wound is the fact that the Binay camp, represented by Toby Tiangco, consulted to TV5 about the rules of bringing notes. Unaware of the COMELEC rules, TV5 News and Public Affairs head and debate moderator Luchi Cruz-Valdez stated that notes are allowed, resulting on a dispute that delayed the whole program. Indeed. If you think the long commercial break of the previous PiliPinas Debates was tedious enough, we got something worse. Well, at least for the Cebu audience, it results in hours of stand-up comedy from the rest of the candidates. Rodrigo Duterte’s cluelessness says so, from the cut-from-broadcast footage shown at the end.

While I can easily ignore this wasteful delaying tactics, I wanted to absorb more the other essential matter: the debate itself, the exchanges of questions, answers and reactions. And how was it? It was more of a shouting match, figuratively and literally.

In every corner, each candidate seemed to have a scheme to eat each other up. Grace Poe, Binay and Duterte ganged up to corner Roxas on issues like his duties during Yolanda, his take on battling drug-trafficking and his Wharton Education. Roxas, on the other hands, repetitively insists for Binay to reveal his COA report in confirmation of the allegations thrown at him. In response, Binay accused of Roxas for scheming the said allegations in the first place. It is more like watching a comedic sketch from Saturday Night Live. And even this debate provided funnier scenes than in SNL. Indeed, not a good sign.

Though I can sit by and be entertained by the exchanges of all candidates, plus the awkward standbys of the cut broadcast bloopers, I get frustrated of what picture this debate paints. It easily threw the supposed solemnity of the debates out of the window and gave more attention to the petty matters that the elections will soon become more trivial than vital. It is like the first thing that will come to mind from this event will is “Binay brought notes” or “TV5 dispute” or even “bloopers”. And such recalls will tamper more images. TV5 better take notes on this one.

It is not a first I feel frustrated about events not taken seriously. Our counterparts in the U.S. are basically doing the same thing; case in point: Donald Trump and his sexist remarks to a FOX News correspondent. But it does not mean that we should mimic what America does. Filipinos are better than just settling to laugh out national issues like this one. Hopefully, last Sunday’s debate won’t serve as a running theme in this election season.

As for us, we have got to extend our area of concern beyond what was given. Let us not just settle for mediocrity. We are better than this. And we will be.




I am a Peterson, a Bosconian, a Lasallian, an ENC Member, a movie buff, a writer, a thespian, an optimist and a servant of God. And I will tell you a story.

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