WHILE there were more promises than substance, the first presidential debate PILIPinasDebates2016 organized by the Commission on Elections as staged by GMA News TV managed to draw pictures of how each of the four candidates are addressing the issues they are facing as president come May 2016.
In a post by Cagayan de Oro journalist, who was among the media observers at the Capitol University, he said: “For their opening statements: Binay: Offers track record in turning around Makati as richest LGU. Santiago: Vows to jail all corrupt politicians once elected. Duterte: Asks for 6 months to rid country of criminality. Poe: Vows to allot 30% of nat'l budget to Mindanao once voted into office. Mar: Called the other candidates names and asked the people to choose him instead.”
While Davao graphic arts designer Marion Descallar wrote: “ATM Pesidential Debate. IMHO, Duterte's 60-second introduction was a marriage proposal while the others delivered long pick-up lines.”
Consistently drawing laughter and giggles was Davao City Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte, who before the live airing started already caught the audience’s attention when he hugged Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago onstage during the technical check.
It was viewed as either a sincere show of respect for each other or that Duterte was out to disarm the person with the sharpest tongue and thus was able to deliver his blows unperturbed by the candidate who has earned a solid reputation for her very quick wit.
Soon after, at the start of the debate, Duterte said there are only two qualified candidates for presidency onstage and one of them is Santiago.
There were several posts by netizens about the exchange that many referred to as either a new love team or a love team taking form.
Roxas was consistent on his pounding on the "daang matuwid" line and comparing the present administration’s performance to the past presidents.
This was most apparent in Round 2 which tackled poverty and development where he pushed for low interest on loans for fisherfolk and new technology, which he said the bottom-up budgeting (BUB) is starting to implement.
“Sa Dagupan sa BUB nagagawin natin ito sa buong bansa, nabigyan natin ng fish finder, mga radar, nakikita nila agad saan ang isda, nahuhuli nila ito, nababenta nila sa magandang presyo. Post-catch facilities, para mas mataas ang kinikita nila sa kinikita nila ngayon, sa ngayon mababa ang kanilang kinikita dahil nabubulok ang kanilang isda. infrastructura para mas madaling ihatid,” he said.
Binay, however, was constantly sniping at the present administration, repeatedly referring to the indecisive and inefficient leadership aside from drumming up the financial success of Makati City.
Grace Poe, on the other hand, was focused on what she intends to do for Mindanao including improving the power sector and its underdevelopment and insisting that peace talks should be a consultative process that includes all groups.
Santiago was caught up pounding on the fact that implementation is the problem and that the funds are not there to deliver what the likes of Roxas and Binay are promising.
“Promise kayo ng promise, eh saan kukunin ang pera?” Santiago wailed.
The classic rebuttal was still by Duterte when Roxas insisted that Mindanao is already receiving much more than what the administration of Presidents Joseph Estrada and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo gave Mindanao.
“Habang totoo na napag-iwanan ang Mindanao, hindi na yan totoo ngayon. In fact Mindanao today has twice the amount of infra for the last five years compared to the last 12 years. P260 bilion pesos ang dumating sa Mindanao sa nakaraang limang taon kumpara sa P125 billion sa panahon ni Gloria at ni Erap,” Roxas said as he drummed up continuing their platform of Daang Matuwid.
Duterte retorted: “Wala man akong nakitang tuwid na daan, puro kulubot man yan. I said this year budget given to Manila the largest portion of it was P64 billion. Ang binigay sa Region 11 (Davao Region) is P19 billion how do you expect Mindanao to develop? You do not count the amount given us the last five years. Naubos yan sa corruption.”
Davao Region has consistently topped revenue contributions and export earnings and thus get the greater amount in return from the national government.
But as it is, Duterte said, it only got P11 billion in a year’s budget.
In terms of practical solutions, Duterte also scored when he pushed for credit cooperatives among the fisherfolk and farmers so that they will no longer be shackled with debt that they can hardly pay.
“We want LandBank to come in and give money to the farmers, help them establish credit unions, doon sila maghiram. Doon sila magtayo ng coop nila para kanila ang binabayaran nila,” Duterte said.
No one else talked brought in cooperatives for the poorer sectors.
“The fundamental duty of the president is to see to it that food is available and food is affordable,” Duterte said earlier when tackling poverty and development.
The mayor was consistently pushing for federalism, which did not get any reaction from the other presidentiables except Poe who said that while federalism may sound like a good answer, the better solution is for the devolution of powers.
Incidentally, devolution of powers to local governments is provided for in the Local Government Code of 1991.
“Dissipate central powers after all that is the symbol of our being oppressed as a people a long time ago. You have to give us our share and of course we have to restore law and order,” the mayor said.
Again, it was Duterte who had a substantial argument about the Bangsamoro Basic Law and the Moro problem.
“With the failure of BBL there is a great, great hurdle unless we can come up with another card which is federalism, nothing at all can appease Mindanao. Yan ang nangyari diyan. That is why it is very important that I will not only offer BBL but offer BBL to all patikay (Nur) Misuari. Every Moro politico would want to see federalism because pumalpakang BBL. You have to right the historical wrong commited against the Moro people,” he said.
After the round 2 that was covering the issue of poverty and development, the GMA New reported that Davao City and Ilocos Norte were most active in the discussion about the presidential election on social media.
Overall, however, the #PiliPinasDebates2016 took the number one spot both nationwide and worldwide with over one million tweets as of 7:50 p.m., Sunday.
How they arrived
Vice President Jejomar Binay arrived first at the Capitol University in Cagayan de Oro City for the presidential debate at 2:57 p.m. for the 5 p.m. schedule. He was with his daughter, Senator Nancy Binay, and Cavite Governor Jonvic Remulla.
Beyond the news about his arrival, however, there was no video unlike the other three who arrived later.
Administration candidate Manuel A. Roxas arrived at 3:45 p.m. accompanied by his wife Korina Sanchez. From the video, Roxas disembarked from the right of the van while Sanchez from the left door.
Roxas walked by himself leaving Sanchez, who was in yellow stilettos, trailing behind.
Senator Grace Poe arrived at 4:02 p.m. with her van and accompanying SUV driving past the entrance elevator that saw at least two men in white polo shirts to run after and signal them to back up.
Davao City Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte and Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago arrived minutes apart just before 4:15 p.m. Duterte in a barong with its long sleeved rolled up and Miriam in a red printed blouse and black skirt arrived with just their staff.
Duterte had his special assistant Christopher Lawrence Go and information officer Joseph Lawrence Garcia as his close-in aides.
There were policemen ready to assist the candidates.
Poe acknowledged her supporters to her left and the policemen had to clear her way to the elevator from photographers who were taking photos and were thus not seen saluting her.
Duterte was greeted with muted cheers and quickly walked toward the elevator while returning the salute of the policemen.
Santiago had a supporter ask to have a photo with her right on the driveway until a man in blue-gray shirt had to intercede and lead her to the elevator. (With ASP)