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Saturday, September 21, 2019
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Velez: That senatorial debate and Labor Day issues

TyBox

WAS that a debate I watched last Sunday? CNN Philippines’ senatorial debate may be exciting, especially the face-off between Gen. Bato and almost everyone in the opposition.

But I couldn’t finish watching the debate. I had mixed thoughts watching that debate. It was so unlike CNN Philippines, whose senatorial forums in the past were formal, calm, and controlled. Every candidate had a chance to explain their points.

It was anything but that last Sunday. CNN went for a “face-off” style debate with a time limit of 30 seconds. What we got is Bato raising heaven and hell defending the war on drugs, using emotion over reason. Opposition candidates like Chel Diokno and Samira Gutoc also put on the heat to the cheers and jeers of the partisan crowd.

Some candidates delivered well despite that format. Neri Colmenares and Chel Diokno were articulate and to the point. Gutoc was fiery.

But I wonder, do we have a notion that election debates need to be “spicy” and “palengke” style like that. The mainstream media seem to frame elections as more entertainment rather than education of the people as responsible citizens.

If that is their way to “market” candidates, then it is a disservice to the audience. I think we, journalists, have the big task to guide our readers, viewers and audience to have informed choices. And you can’t give that by playing to the crowd with punchlines and emotions running amok like last Sunday.

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Since today is Labor Day, here are election-related questions concerning the “masa”: Why can’t debates discuss what are the candidates’ agenda to address labor issues that affect millions of workers? Which senatorial candidate and party-list carry this agenda?

If we reacted strongly against the National Statistics that said a family can survive with P10,000 monthly, then we should address the reality that the minimum wage of workers cannot keep a family alive for a month, or a week, or a day.

The minimum wage is lowest at ARMM at 280 pesos per day, it averages around 300 in Mindanao. Is it livable?

The Kilusang Mayo Uno is pushing for a 750 pesos minimum wage increase. IBON Foundation backs this increase, saying this will only take away 14% from the income of companies.

If we look at the Forbes richest Filipinos, these billionaires can afford to give just compensation. After all, their workers and employees have every right to be justly compensated for keeping the elite’s pocket full.

In millennial speak, happiness is important. Spread that to the workers, please. Vote for happiness, vote for fighters.

tyvelez@gmail.com


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