Presidential debates

Published April 9, 2022, 12:05 AM

by Dr. Florangel Rosario Braid


Dr. Florangel Rosario-Braid

Those who have been watching the recent presidential and vice presidential debates would agree that they are making a  positive impact on the political education of our electorate.  By explaining their stance on the critical issues of governance, our candidates  are helping the electorate choose leaders who they believe would be able to respond to the needs of the times. Debates are as important as  political parties. The reason why the latter has not been  effective is that candidates do not feel bound to carry out the policies articulated by the party.  Too, we have seen so many political butterflies who flit from one party to another in the past. These practices had diluted the party’s effectiveness, a state that needs to be addressed in the future.  

During the last presidential debate sponsored by Comelec,  our nine presidential candidates responded to questions  posed by moderator broadcast journalist Ces Orena-Drilon  on political party, political dynasty, corruption, government accountability, human rights, foreign relations, water, renewable energy, food security, OFWs, ASEAN relations, China and the West Philippine Sea, among others  – concerns that most people deem important in the life of the country. 

Except for a few topics like political dynasty (Senator Pacquiao thinks we should respect people’s rights to make choices since we are a democracy), most of our presidentiables  believe that this should be a priority concern  as it is a barrier to access and participation in governance by capable men and women who are not members of a political dynasty. 

Most presidentiables see corruption as a problem of the system and not of the individual. However, Senator Lacson regards it as the presence of weak leadership; that if we are able to strengthen our leaders, the system would subsequently  improve. 

There is unanimity of  agreement that the Philippines has not exercised the needed political will in helping victims of human rights in an  ASEAN neighbor country, Myanmar.  There is also agreement  among the presidentiables on the issue of supporting our claim on sovereign rights to  the West Philippine Sea. They also think  that these three – water, food security, and a transition from fossil fuel to renewable energy,  are valid concerns. All agree that the next administration should allocate more resources for health workers. 

 The suggestion for  Comelec to include the holding of debates among the two highest posts in government as a requirement in future national elections is noteworthy.  As someone said, it is a good test of character. It is a way we can judge whether the candidate is sincere and trustworthy.

We are living in a multicultural world which requires strengthening of our multilateral relationships. We therefore need a kind of governance that is knowledgeable, anticipatory and deeply aware of the nuances of trends in international affairs.   In addition to climate change and the demands of sustainable development, we are also witnessing transitions such as the movement from capitalism to cooperativism. This is a positive development. 

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