IN THE last week, we saw two sets of presidential interviews conducted by two popular media personalities -- award-winning journalist Jessica Soho and television host Boy Abunda.

The Jessica Soho Presidential Interviews featured the top presidential candidates in the upcoming 2022 National Elections -- Vice President Maria Leonor "Leni" Robredo, Senator Panfilo "Ping" Lacson, Senator Emmanuel "Manny" Pacquiao Sr., and Manila Mayor Francisco "Isko Moreno" Domagoso.

Former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. skipped Soho's interview.

In a statement released by Marcos’ spokesperson Vic Rodriguez, they skipped the interview as the questions that will be thrown by Soho “will just focus on negativity about BBM which the UniTeam dislike.”

Marcos participated in the 2022 Presidential One-On-One Interviews with Abunda. The other top candidates also took part in this presidential interview.

However, the interviews were criticized, among other criticisms, for not including other presidential aspirants. Other aspirants based on the official list of presidential candidates released by the Commission on Elections are former Presidential Spokesperson and Department of Foreign Affairs Usec. Ernie Abella, labor rights activist Leody de Guzman, former Department of National Defense Sec. Norberto Gonzales, businessman Faisal Mangondato, and cardiologist Dr. Jose Montemayor Jr.

Manila Broadcasting Company's DZRH is also running its "Bakit Ikaw? The DZRH Presidential Job Interview" from January 25 to February 2. This interview includes Marcos, De Guzman, Lacson, Pacquiao, and Robredo.

Moreno said he is skipping the DZRH interview because his former chief of staff Cesar Chavez, is an executive of the radio station. He said he did not want Chavez to be in hot water due to their history of working together.

As the 2022 National Elections draw closer, Presidential debates and interviews are becoming more important. These platforms allow the candidates to express their thoughts on certain issues. We are also able to see how well they handle tough questions thrown at them and how they carry themselves despite how "biased" they think an interview is.

Most importantly, it allows the voters to assess the candidates they will be voting for. It allows voters to better decide on who to vote for in the upcoming elections.

"Presidential and vice-presidential candidates should commit to the public, whose votes they seek, that they will participate in the #PiliPinasDebates2022," Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said in a social media post on January 22, 2022.

It is also equally important for organizers of the interviews, especially the large media organizations, to make the presidential debates and interviews inclusive to other candidates. De Guzman held a live program on social media answering the questions of Soho despite not being invited to her interview.

The inclusion of other candidates also allows them to be heard. They deserve to be heard and present their platforms. It also levels the playing field, especially if there are other candidates who can show that they have the characteristics and qualifications of someone fit to run the country.

It is also important that the interviews are free of any bias to allow a more leveled discussion. At the same time, it is important for candidates to understand that the questions will be tough. As GMA Network has said, “The questions are tough because the job of the presidency is tough.”

Presidential interviews and debates are not merely there to hike the viewership of a network or media organization. These interviews and debates are the job interviews presidential candidates have to attend. By the end of the day, it will be the Filipinos who will decide who their next president will be. Just like any employer, we have to know who we will be "employing."