Frontview: The making of a Presidential Debate
KAPATID DAY - Peachy Vibal-Guioguio (The Philippine Star) - March 17, 2016 - 10:00am

I attended the alignment meeting of TV5’s coverage of the second Presidential Debate and was amused to witness how the spokespersons and representatives of each presidential candidate were trying to ensure that his or her candidate come out with the most “pogi or ganda” points for his or her boss. To say that it was intense is an understatement and I am hoping that we get the same unbridled passion, not just rhetorics, from each candidate as they answer or clarify the issues presented to them.

On March 20, from 5 to 8 p.m., TV5 joins the entire Filipino people in a closer and more intimate look at the presidential candidates and their vision of where the Philippines should be heading. It is a turning point in our history as the third decade of the 21st century comes into view. This is what the COMELEC-sponsored debates are all about and the second in the series is going to be held at the Performing Arts Hall at the University of the Philippines campus in Cebu City.

This series of COMELEC-initiated debates was the first ever since 1992 and in line with the provision of the Fair Election Act. TV5 president and CEO Emmanuel Lorenzana said, “The coverage of the March 20 debate is the centerpiece in our Bilang Pilipino program to provide Filipino voters and the general public, with the most extensive and in-depth coverage of the 2016 national elections.” Lorenzana stressed that “it is important that the electorate should be made fully aware of the consequences of their choices — for their future and their children’s children as well.”

TV5 has acceded to the request of the viewers that a two-hour debate is a short time to really get to hear what the candidates have to say, thus the network has decided to make the program into a three-hour show. It would be telecast live from 5 to 8 p.m. and will be carried nationwide and in multi-platforms by the network in partnership with PLDT; Smart; Cignal; RadyoSingko;; Bloomberg TV Philippines; BusinessWorld; and The Philippine STAR/Ang Pilipino Star Ngayon/The Freeman Cebu. This next round of debates would focus on issues of concern for the Visayas region, namely climate change, disaster reduction and preparedness, corruption, health, education and youth. The format will be a panel discussion and the candidates will be given longer talking time. The first hour of debate will allow each candidate two minutes to answer and another two minutes for follow-up questions. The second hour will be a toss-up for the five presidential bets to question each other with the same two-minute rule.

The Cebu debate will be moderated by the multi-awarded broadcast journalist and head of TV5 News and Public Info, Luchi Cruz-Valdes. She will be joined by a panel composed of highly-respected and distinguished media professionals: Veteran journalist, Aksyon anchor and Radyo 5 commentator Erwin Tulfo; News 5 anchor, multi-awarded public affairs host and digital influencer Lourd de Veyra; DYHP RMN Cebu commentator lawyer Ruphil Bañoc; STAR associate editor/news editor Marichu Villanueva; Bloomberg TV PH host and lawyer-economist Tony Abad; and STAR editor-in-chief Ana Marie Pamintuan.

According to Cruz-Valdes, “For the first time, they’ll see a real Presidential Debate, not another open forum. Historically, in past elections, leading candidates (based on surveys) don’t bother showing up. This election is different. The race is so tight that all candidates must have realized that the debate can help tip the odds in their favor.”

Patrick Paez, head of News Production added, “We want a real debate. Not a ‘debate’ only in name that’s really nothing more than another open forum. Luchi Cruz-Valdes will moderate, and I can’t think of anyone else in our industry with both the skill and credibility to pull this off. A panelist will ask a question, a candidate will answer, the other candidates can react. It’s that simple and straight forward,” he added.

The Kapatid network’s coverage of the Cebu debate has turned into a logistical, organizational and diplomatic feat according to Paez. He said, “The challenge is that we will have to move equipment and manpower to Cebu for this debate. That is the logistical nightmare. But I guess the bigger challenge is to get the five campaign teams to agree to the common set of rules and mechanics. And this was what I saw during the meeting as they try to jockey/lobby for what is convenient or what will be most suited to his/her own candidate.

“At some point, when the discussion was becoming heated, Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) board member Rey Hulog pointed out that the ‘presidential race is like a job opening wherein the applicant is applying for the job and the interviewer gets to ask him questions to assess if he/she is suited for the position.’” Indeed, if this was the preview of the March 20 Presidential Debate, I am looking forward to watching and being informed by these “applicants” for the highest position in public office.

  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?
Login is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with