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Apr 25, 2016
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The weather is hot enough, thank you very much, but with only two weeks till the national elections, expect things to get more heated up. The third and last Pilipinas Debates 2016 wasn't a hoot as the previous one, and you can tell almost instantly that the candidates had been properly prepped not to lose their temper or put their feet in their mouths.

Still, the less fuss, the more the debate focused on the things that matter, and revealed—for whatever it's worth—who has the policies, who knows the numbers, and who can only resort to poll numbers and paid surveys.

As the election comes, remember, we are the leader we elect.

Here's our debate lowdown:


Miriam Defensor-Santiago

She gave the usual answers in her oh-so-stern, I-am-Miriam demeanor, but the long pauses in between her points did not do her favors, no matter how much she says she's better and is on expensive experimental drugs not available in the market.

Despite that, she is brilliant when she's talking about the law and laying down her three qualifications for the presidency (the same thing she asked candidate Mar Roxas in their mano-a-mano). She is a stateswoman, we must say, noting things like legal and diplomatic solutions to the West Philippine Sea conflict and not, like the other dude, rely on the willingness to kill or be killed.

We are doubtful Miriam will be strong enough to see not just this election through but also, should she win, the presidency for six years. She calls it black propaganda, people trumping her illness. But it cannot be helped. Which is really unfortunate—she surely has the balls for it, and the integrity and knowledge.


Mar Roxas

Speaking like the statesman his late father, Senator Gerry Roxas was, Mar had clear and concise answers. Like everyone else, surely he would need to make pronouncements and promises, foremost of which was decent and progressive life for everyone. Plus points for him not losing his cool this time, too.

As the campaign intensifies, Rodrigo Duterte has managed to sort of shoot his mouth in all directions, with things backfiring on him—something fellow candidate Grace Poe did not mince words asking him about. Whatever effect this has on Duterte's presidential bid, it seems more and more that—despite his affiliation with PNoy and the lackluster leadership—Mar seems to be the saner choice. Too bad Roxas, for all his stats and know-how and seeming sincerity, he really has no charisma to speak of, not to us at least.

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All the bad things about this current leadership has rubbed off on Roxas, which is unfortunate for him, but should he win, we think he may be able to do more things than we anticipate.


Jejomar Binay

The only redeeming thing he did during the debate, for us, was leaving the podium and going to the edge of the stage to address the person who asked a question—or relayed his or her life story in that dramatic way ABS-CBN has perfected. However, Poe had done that before him so, that does mean he only gets plus points for not delaying the debate to get his notes?

He seemed like he was addressing a barangay gathering—meaning his answers seem pretty scripted—and his default mode is to enumerate his credentials and promises to the people, which can only makes his detractors question his sincerity more. The same people could also nitpick on how he kept ragging on Mar as an incompetent leader when he's the one who is the incumbent vice president with several corruption accusations against him.


Rodrigo Duterte

This man knows how to work his audience, and obviously he's gotten the Pinoy psyche down pat. He can make people laugh with his very Pinoy, very kanto humor—he unabashedly said he would just copy good policies from others because he's always copied answers in exams when he was in Grade 3. He is very open about who he is, which is a good thing to an extent; he really just has to set limitations for himself because whether he likes it or not, the presidency has to be decent and forthright. And so he doesn't steal money; but kill? Let's just hope it's the right people, because we all know the justice system never really makes any mistakes about that.

We must admit, though, we had bought into his whole deal. We can relate because, like him and many of our countrymen, the lack of solution to our problems is not just frustrating, it's infuriating. But Duterte has a mouth on him, and what he says now he takes back later—if that gives you confidence in a president, you're a much more forgiving person than we are. Even Mar called him out on this, especially when they almost got into a heated debate about Philhealth. The former challenged him to quit if he can produce credible files and people the agency has helped in Davao. Duterte resorted to asking Mar how come he's struggling in the surveys. Clearly that's the best argument he can give.

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"When I say stop, you stop it," Duterte said. Shades of a dictator? Up to the people to decide.


Grace Poe

Very mom-like, Poe's leadership is hinged #puso. Hence, she tries to be the people person by going near the person who asked her a question when she answers. She's all about family and her being a mother, which is heartening if a tad dramatic, as some political analysts might say. Still, let it not be said she does not know what she is talking about. Because aside from Mar, she came prepared and had answers; clearer and more concise than the others.

In a case of lesser evil, most would probably go with her. Her inexperience, however, is cause for our concern. She may also lack the brute force and headstrong character of Miriam, which, face it, we may actually need in a leader. Dealing with an unruly child is one thing; being a mother to an entire nation of millions of undisciplined people is another.

 

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