UP prof: Candidates stood out in their own rights


MANILA, Philippines – Presidential candidates were in their best shape of showing their caliber in the last face-off, a University of the Philippines educator on Sunday said.

Political Science Assistant Professor Jan Robert Go told Philstar.com that the debate was the best among the three held for the presidential bets.

“It balances the politics of each candidate and the general and specific platforms were ably presented by candidates,” the analyst said.

The debate, which had light and rough moments, was centered on the promised topics of discussion.

While Go finds that there were obvious deviations from the topics of discussion, the debate still managed to properly cover promised issues, addressing both its policy and political aspects.

The analyst also weighed in on how each candidate fared in the debate.

All five presidential bets—Vice President Jejomar Binay, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, Sen. Grace Poe, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago and former Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II—faced each other off on the final debate organized by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

“Binay focused on his strength, which is his experience as a local chief executive. Santiago, while obviously weak, was direct and fierce. It was a better performance compared to her first appearance in February,” Go said.

“Duterte kept his usual light, practical, and 'realistic' portrayal of himself and his candidacy. Poe was clearly prepared. Though there were rhetorical statements like other candidates, Poe tried to keep her answers within the question. Roxas also showed he is prepared. His answers were as sensible as they could be, but suspicion is always there since he is from the current administration,” he added.

The analyst explained how the candidates stood out in their own rights by utilizing various appeals.

In terms of “experience,” Go said that Binay and Roxas used their former positions in giving their answers.

Both Roxas and Poe stood out when it comes to “preparation,” obviously taking notes to help them answer the questions.

Duterte and Santiago, on the other hand, topped their rivals through “directness.”

“Duterte positioned himself as the real and he was very good at it,” Go said. “Miriam has a solid group of supporters who consistently cheered her despite her limitations.”

Go mentioned some particularly good points which were raised during the debate.

“The fast talk and face-to-face segments revealed the character and political positioning of the candidates. Showing the experiences of different sectors or groups and using them as take off points makes the discussion on programs more closer to the public,” he said.

The debate, which was held at the University of Pangasinan Phinma in Dagupan City, followed a town hall format.

In a town hall debate, ordinary Filipinos represented different sectors of society. They asked questions on pressing issues such as traffic and public transport, job security, health, foreign policy, basic public education, the plight of overseas Filipino workers, and peace for the Mindanaoans in conflict areas.

The candidates, however, failed to capture the essence of the questions, the analyst said.

“They (candidates) instead focused on the too large or too specific. Generally, though, it was good,” Go said.

The analyst believes the debate series were helpful since it showed the public who the candidates are.

He added that participating in debates is a good political exercise, raising the level of discussions among the electorate and involvement of the larger public.

“Faced with time constraints, we are shown who are prepared or has knowledge of the issues. The presidency is not a joke or just another job. Life of millions of Filipinos will be affected. The president represents us,” Go said.

Sunday's face-off was the third in a series of three organized by the Comelec before the May 9 polls. 

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