And just like that, Judgment Day is right around the corner.
On Monday, May 9, the whole Filipino electorate will vote for the people they want to lead them and at the same time, mend a few broken fences caused by the campaign period that is turning more hostile by the day.
The PiliPinas Debates 2016 is over and done with; the candidates are down to their last days of winning the hearts of locals in out-of-town sorties; all that mudslinging and black propaganda have already done their damage; and yet you still haven't made up your mind on who you think is right, particularly, for the presidency.
Ever the concerned citizen, FHM will try to aid you in this crucial decision-making, through an informative series that will shed light on the stuff that really matter about your wannabe presidents: Vice President Jejomar Binay, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, Sen. Grace Poe, and former Interior secretary Mar Roxas.
With all the dubious links and fake-ass news stories your unwitting friends and tech-unsavvy relatives share on social media, what you, the voters, need are hard facts straight from the horse's mouth. FHM's "Your President's Plan" is here to collate each candidate's plan of attack for four issues of national significance, through uttered words and submitted platforms.
The territorial dispute for Scarborough Shoal between the Philippines and China has been going on for years. The area has been the subject of conflict primarily because of its rich resources such as oil, natural gas, minerals, and fish. The Philippines insists on having rightful ownership but China claims they discovered the shoal centuries ago and have long been fishing in the area. But since the 2012 standoff, the Chinese restricted access to the territory.
Tensions escalated with the recent construction of artificial islands with airstrips and radar stations. Stating that China violated international laws, the Philippine government brought the issue before the UN Arbitral Tribunal, exhausting every possible diplomatic avenues for a peaceful settlement. The Americans also expressed great concern that China's territorial claim could turn violent, sort of a flashpoint so to speak.
Now Filipinos, particularly those whose livelihood depends on fishing near the area, are the ones greatly affected by this whole dispute. China continues to shove them back to Philippine shores, resulting to a decrease in their income.
What do our candidates have to say about that?
ON DIPLOMATIC APPROACH
Accepting the fact that we are at a disadvantage against China's advanced war capabilities, all candidates agree on a diplomatic approach as the first logical option, even as Duterte chimed in with his brash antics coupled with heroic fantasies. He says he will plant the Filipino flag on the island surface, and declare, "This is ours and do what you want with me. I would state that claim... and if they want to—eh matagal ko nang ambisyon yan na maging hero rin ako."
ON FISHERFOLK'S LIVELIHOOD
Binay, Poe and Roxas pledge support to affected families such as financial aid, medical assistance, and educational programs. Aside from the much-needed assistance, Poe will also provide new fishing equipment to augment their livelihood.
ON NAVAL SECURITY/COAST GUARD
Defensor-Santiago underscores the importance of effectively monitoring of our surrounding waters, that's why she plans to augment our surveillance, reconnaissance, and intelligence-gathering capabilities. In addition, she says we have to develop "minimum deterrence capabilities" so that we can at least defend our territorial integrity from China.
"Ang paniwala ng buong mundo na atin talaga yung tubig na yan, eh. Kaya huwag niya tayong paandaran ng ganyan. That's all." —Miriam, PiliPinas Debates 2016
For her part, Poe aims to beef up naval security by adding more coastguard vessels. She also sees the need for fishermen to have radio communications equipment so they could easily call for security assistance.
ON PHILIPPINE SOVEREIGNTY
As long as our sovereignty and our freedom are not compromised, Poe and Roxas will not hesitate to ask for international assistance, specifically from the US. On the contrary, Defensor-Santiago prefers to talk directly to China rather than rely on any US support in solving disputes with a neighboring country.
Meanwhile, Binay hopes to continue trade relations with China despite the Spratly's problem.
"May pera po ang China, kailangan po natin ng capital. Let us develop those natural resources dun sa area na yun. Yan ay joint-venture." —Binay, DZYM interview
How long will it take before it's finally resolved? No one knows. As Binay said, ''Nakakalungkot pero tanggapin po natin na hindi naman po matatapos yan kaagad. Siguro, ilang taon na tayong namamatay eh hindi pa rin nareresolba yan."
Click here for the rest of FHM's "Your President's Plan," where we discuss each candidate's plan regarding traffic, crime, and the economy.