Is there really any point in holding a presidential debate in the Philippines?

First of all, Filipino voters do not appreciate debates. They appreciate dance and singing numbers and seeing politicians mouth off the latest trending catchphrases. But when it comes to things that require thinking, guess what: Nosebleed!

Indeed, if there is a national “debate” of consequence, it is happening only within a small clique of “politically passionate” social media “activists”. Within that clique resounds the chatter of opinion and “analyses” on the latest indignation fads. But even then, what dominates those discussions still falls short of the intelligence needed to get the most out of “democracy”. Rather, underneath the veneer of “educated” opinion on the posturing of the who’s who of candidates in the next election lies nothing more than vacuous banter on who is voting for who or who is running with who. What is missing is quite stark: the whats. Who is voting for what idea. Which politician stands for what position on an issue.


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The most popular presidential candidate of the moment (or so the opinion polls say) is Grace Poe who, like the incumbent President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III, is a reluctant candidate. The reluctance of a presidential candidate alone indicates that becoming president was only a recent notion to said candidate after having been thrust into the limelight by handlers hungry for a “winnable” one. That’s all Filipinos seemingly deserve — reluctant politicians.

One can almost imagine what would be going on in the mind of a reluctant presidentiable:

What the hell am I gonna do as president?

Not to worry. Just win this election and we’ll sort out the details when you get to Malacanang.

In the case of the late Dolphy, King of Philippine Comedy, it was the other way around. “It is easy to run for President,” he once quipped when asked about the idea of him entering politics. “But what if I win?”

Pity Mar Roxas then. His is the anti-thesis of the way Dolphy thought. Roxas’s mind is full of ideas of what sort of president he plans to be when he is given the privilege to rule. But the bigger question in his mind is “What if am not given the chance to run??”

Fortunately for Roxas, he was given the chance in this election (after having that chance seized from him back in 2009 by now President BS Aquino). This was not an easy decision for President BS Aquino to make. It took years for him to make up his mind on who to endorse as his successor. But lucky for Mar, he went on to become the grudging Liberal Party choice. Funny that. The reluctant ones get unreserved endorsements from their handlers while the exceedingly keen ones get no more than a grudging nod from their sponsors. Just the same, now all Roxas needs to do is win the election.

Over the last several paragraphs above is described the general landscape of the Philippine national “debate” today. It’s nothing about what’s going to happen over the next six years after 2016. It’s about the next few months in the lead up to the 2016 elections in May of that year. After that? What else: bahala na (come what may).


And therein lies the trouble with the idea of holding a presidential debate. Very few Filipinos can think that far ahead, nor do they even care about what the years 2016 through 2022 will be all about. Never mind that there is a big ugly military superpower breathing down the nation’s hapless assets on the West Philippine Sea, or that 2016 and the subsequent couple of years will be El Niño years, or that traffic in Metro Manila will surely get from bad to worse within even just the next six months and continue on at an exponential rate of degeneration following those. That’s just too much info for so little brainspace. The fact that Filipinos would consider an inexperienced showbiz child, a discredited Vice President, and a lame duck pwede na yan admin bet is demonstration enough of a wholesale society-wide failure of imagination.

Filipinos, quite simply, fail to imagine a prosperous future for themselves.

If Filipinos could exercise a bit of world-class imagineering of their future, they would straightaway see that the present crop of presidential candidates simply do not measure up to the standard required to execute to strategic vision. There is no strategy nor vision to begin with. Ask any of these politicians and all you will get is loud headscratching; perhaps a few motherhood statements at best that pander to the sort of populist ideas Filipinos have long been addicted to.

Presidential debate? There’s just nothing to work with — because there is no future Filipinos are up to imagining for themselves. With no such imagined future, there is nothing to which presidents are measured up to.

23 Replies to “Is there really any point in holding a presidential debate in the Philippines?”

  1. We should ask these Presidential , and Vice Presidential aspirants; to Debate. We would love to see them, think on their feet. And see how they propose to solve our problems. And their Plans for our country…they can debate in Pilipino or in English language. For the sake of our foreign audiences; they should use , English.

    Debate is a Measure, on what they are thinking. And their ability, to think in times of a stressful situation.

    The reason why any Imbecile can just run for public office , and get elected; is because, candidates don’t Debate. Our people must learn to choose the best candidate. And the time is Now.

    Even Senatorial candidates, and Congressional candidates must Debate. There should be a Committee on Debates formed , by the Concerned Citizen Sector. Free from Media Bias. We must prevent Candidates from using any Media as his/her Propaganda Machine.

    Debate is a Good Way, to Segregate the Phonies, among the candidates.

    1. We have now the :internet, twitters, blogs, etc…any Filipino voter, can ask questions on the candidate…and he/she( the candidate), must respond, infront of the audience…

    2. Brad. Huwag ka nang umasa. And debate dito sa Pinas, parang Fliptop lang. Puro laitan.

      You expect these numbskulls to present a platform? Dude, a lot of presidents have won without any concrete platforms. Why should we expect them to do such this time?

      The only time that our politicians will finally start to think like one is if our people start to think like real people.

      1. If we are just like carabaos, with tied noses, led to wherever these Politicians want us to be… then, there is no hope for the Philippines. We must be aggressive participants, where we want where our country are being led.

        Apathy is a vice, that the Filipinos cannot afford. We get a hell hole country. Because, we never lift a finger to get out from this hell hole.

  2. Aside from “nosebleed,” there’s “brainbleed.” Anything that makes Filipinos think seems to be demonized by our culture as coming from the “evil colonizers” or the “mayabang na elite.” Even when most of the actual highbrows in the country don’t seem to display it.

      Brainbleed ? NO, more like BRAIN-DEAD !!!!

  3. Pinoys are as allergic to intellect as anyone can get. Debates are as relevant as the NHL draft is to your typical kanto boy. FPJ, Nancy Binay and Noynoy Aquino either were no shows or non performers during their campaigns yet they captured the imagination, hearts and intellect of the voters of this fine nation. Noynoy refused to answer specific questions. The message is clear when it comes to the pinoy electorate. If you are not the sharpest knife in the drawer, you will likely win an election here. PROUD TO BE PINOY!!!

  4. what to make of congress’ refusal to open up banking details to the BIR, securities and exchange people, and intelligence and money laundering agencies, as well as child support officials?
    also the lack of will to pass the FOI bill, as well as the fact that no one has ever been convicted of insider trading in the Philippines?
    all just pure coincidence and no dots between them all?
    well, to an uninformed and dumbeddown citizenry, used to being entertained, humored and cajoled, it’s all stuff and nonsense and lacking in meaning, and no good for karaoking to.
    so bring on the dancing girls, the strumming ukeleles and the phoney smiles, life’s just one big cabaret where the music never stops.

  5. In a battle of believability in what Failipinos in the Failippines call it “presidential debates”, the winner is the one with the best body language, not the clearest logic.

  6. Is there any point in public debate in a society where hardly anyone has been taught how to think, while millions have been taught what to think?

  7. “Is there really any point in holding a presidential debate in the Philippines?”

    Filipinos watch enough teleseryas and “Eat Bulaga.” Why add another mind-numbing program to that list?

  8. I think the only way most Filipinos will tune in to that debate is if it will be mediated by Vice Ganda.

    The Roxas-Poe tandem: Why is it not a popular duo? Because it doesn’t have the KathNiel or the AlDub aura. If it ever happened, do we think Filipinos will see a presidential-vice presidential candidate? I bet they will not. They will give it “uuyyyy!” chant despite knowing that the two are are already married.

    And if indeed a debate do happen, I really wonder if the questions will be asked would be as challenging as the recent US Presidential Debate.
    I really love to hear from our candidates what is their stand on gun control. But I guess our presidential debates will be more appreciated if it is made as a musical or a game show. You know what, let’s make this constitutional. I suggest adding artistic talent as one of the qualifications for president and vp candidates. Anyway, the electorate seems to look for it all the time.

    However, if that will be done, I also hope that in amending the constitution, they will include that such if presidential candidate wins, he should leave the Philippines together with his party and his voters. They should be expelled from this country. We can be better without them.

  9. NO, ABSOLUTELY NOT. These lying weasel’s will tel the ‘massa’ anything, lie traight to their face, and then not do as they say they will. They can not be trusted and their word is no good. Political debates in any country is a waste of time, but especially so in the Failippines.

  10. Why a picture of kittens benign0? What did they ever do to you?

    Don’t you think feces throwing apes or wrestling clowns would be more representative of the candidates?

    With regards to debates…. no chance anyone would watch, unless it’s build up like a retarded game show and that disgusting cretin Willie Revillame is the host.

    Questions should include:

    What is your favorite color?

    Superman or Batman, who will win?

    If you are elected President, do you think you can fart and chew gum at the same time?

    How long does it usually take you to watch 60 Minutes?

    Does looking at a picture of the sun hurt your eyes?

    How many calories are in a booger?

    In your opinion, what is the right age to start teaching dogs and cats about sex?

    How can one tell which side of the potato chip is saltier?

    Which of you candidates applied to get into Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry?

    How to best get spaghetti stains out of white underwear?

    If you make Jesus shaped pancakes and burn them, are you going to hell?

    1. fushia.
      batman with kryptonite.
      yes and it would be a wet fart.
      65 minutes, commercials.
      only if i don’t have shades.
      depends on if i used coke that day.
      1 in dog years
      the one with ridges and is slightly burnt.
      binay…got hit with expecto petronum.
      see…wet fart
      not if the burn turns out to be an image of jesus’ mommy

      just getting my campaign platform ready.

      1. I think I can see why. My two pet male cats are always fighting this past few weeks. All I can hear is “nyaw-nyaw” which is irritating. I guess that is what you will similarly hear in presidential debates if participants would be the 2016 bets.

  11. The problem with presidential debates is that ideally, they open up political ideals. There are no political ideals here… well except maybe for the left. Personality politics rules our country. We have been subjected to it for countless decades that it becomes hard not to fall into its trap. Don’t expect the debates to clear anything up. For example, when asked about the West Philippine Sea or K-12 or any other issue, expect a conservative answer whose goal is simply not to offend anyone. Grace Poe’s declaration was a good preview.

  12. If we believe that the masses’ awareness of important issues needs improvement; if we believe that their discernment must be elevated, albeit incrementally; and, if we believe that these considerations are vital to the country now… We absolutely need to have these debates. If the candidates, their handlers and their political parties refuse or hesitate to hold such debates, it could only be their desire for the ‘status quo’… an easily fooled, uninformed and confused electorate. It might be a quaint idea now, but shouldn’t it be incumbent upon the informed leaders to try, and pull up the less-informed masses? 

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