THE pulong-pulong, small gathering in the locality, is one tool for a candidate to get closer to the voter.
The face-to-face encounter may even be better than a campaign rally where the candidates are usually several meters from the rest of the audience and, to get the attention of everybody, they feel they have to be entertaining.
In a gathering with only several dozens of residents at a barangay, a candidate can get personal in discussing an election platform and the voters can be direct, too, in their questioning. In pulong-pulongs, similar to the American version of the town hall meeting, candidates invite voters to a dialog. It is in an election season when people of influence reach out to get the people’s concerns. Voters should take advantage of that to ask questions of their candidates.
Several websites have come up with lists of questions to ask election candidates. These queries range from, metaphorically, hardball to softball. Hardball for those hard, challenging and probing questions to candidates; softball are those easy questions to get to know the person better. Examples are:
What do you hope to accomplish in the next three years if you get elected? What transportation options will Cebuanos have in three years? Will your planned projects be completed within your term? If not, how do you intend to continue your programs? How would you approach the illegal drugs problem?
With gruesome killings happening in Cebu, what will you do to help people with mental health problems and will you include spending on mental health in your local budget?
What kind of changes should there be in the garbage or landfill policy?
How will you bring your voice to the National Government, especially on issues such as our relations with China and mining regulation?
Are you willing to work with non-government, people’s organizations to help fight poverty?
For those running for reelection, what was the most important decision you made in your last three years? Your biggest failure? What would you change about the past?
What are the day-to-day responsibilities of the mayor or governor? What will be the most challenging aspect of being a mayor or governor? How do you measure success as an elected official? What makes you excited about serving your constituents?
How do you see yourself three years from now? Where do you see Cebu City or Cebu province three years from now?
If elected, how do you intend to continue communicating or getting feedback from voters? How do you plan to involve residents in your decision-making process?
Softball questions are – Tell me about yourself. What are your strengths and weaknesses? How do you keep fit? What does your family say about your candidacy? What do you do in your free time? What’s your favorite fast food joint? How do you intend to spend the Holy Week?
Let’s see if candidates can answer half of those questions to the satisfaction of those asking them.