DEBATES A MUST TO CHOOSE NEXT PHILIPPINE PRESIDENT

Separating chaff from grain

By Manny Piñol

pinolThe National Election of 2016 is definitely one of the most critical political events that the Filipinos of this generation must be deeply involved with.

The Presidential election would not only be about electing the next head of the gargantuan political apparatus bedevilled by corruption but it would be more of a crucial decision to choose the boldest, the bravest, the calmest and the most critical-thinking Commander-in-Chief.

Confronted by major issues involving the annexation by China of Philippine atolls in the West Philippine Sea, the growing Prohibited Drugs menace destroying the next generation, the feeling of insecurity by ordinary citizens in the face of rising criminality, the bloody 46-year-old Communist Insurgency, the restless Muslim population in the South, the unresolved Sabah issue, the culture of corruption creeping into the fabric of society, the impunity by the rich and powerful in the face of the law, the availability and affordability of food, the poverty in the countryside, the inequitable sharing of political power and the unabated flight of the country’s young and bright human resource to search for jobs abroad, the country must elect a leader who would be able to address all of these concerns and more.

This brings us to the question of who among the current Presidentiables could best handle the critical problems of the country.

DUTERTE ON DRUGSThere are four names which are constantly mentioned as probable Presidential candidates.

Two of them – Vice President Jejomar Binay and Interior Secretary Manuel A. Roxas III – have already publicly declared their intention to run for President while the third, neophyte Senator Grace Poe Llamanzares appears to be biding her time in the face of questions raised over her residency and citizenship.

The fourth probable, Davao City Mayor Rod Duterte, has assumed an unusual stance – an unwilling candidate who needs a lot more convincing that he is really needed by the country and the Filipino people.

Ironically, out of the four probables, it is only the reluctant Duterte who has addressed the major problems confronting the country in the sorties he made all over the country while advocating for a shift in the form of government from Unitary Presidential to Federal Parliamentary.

All the three others have not really defined their position on very serious problems, especially Prohibited Drugs.

Roxas, who has been anointed by President Aquino as his successor, has been going around the country distributing police cars and firetrucks while at the same time vowing to continue an “expanded” Tuwid na Daan.

Poe, who topped the surveys conducted by two of the country’s top political polling firms, has been harping on the problems besetting the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) and promising to continue the legacy of her father, the late Presidential candidate Fernando Poe, Jr..

Binay, on the other hand, has been sending mixed and garbled signals issuing statements based on the hot issues of the day which provide him the desired media mileage.

Important questions like: “How would Roxas, Binay, Poe or Duterte react when they are roused from sleep in the middle of the night and told that China had sent its naval fleet to the West Philippine Sea to occupy additional islands?” would never be answered.

Unless these four presidential probables are placed on a common spot and confronted with questions concerning the major issues facing the country, the Filipino voters will be left in the dark and unaided in electing the right President and a reliable Commander-in-Chief.

Recently in the United States of America, the Republican Party held a debate among its members who have expressed the intent to run for President.

It was a beautiful spectacle as one by one the Presidential wannabes expounded on their stand on critical issues confronting America today.

It was an exercise which separated the chaff from the grain, the competent from the incompetent and the real from the fake.

A Presidential debate is what we need now so that all these probable leaders of the country could be scrutinised by the Filipino nation.

Major media organisations, just like what Fox News and CNN do in the U.S., should initiate the conduct of the Presidential debates to be aired live for the nation to witness.

This must be done before the filing of the certificates of candidacy in October and at least two or three more times before the elections in May 2016.

Through these debates, the Filipino people will be able to wisely discern who is the most fitting political leader to become President of the Philippines, the Commander-in-Chief and the Captain of the Nation who will navigate the troubled waters to bring the Filipinos of this generation and the next generation to a better future.

Let the debates begin!

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