The Kapuso Network missed a golden opportunity with its much publicized Isang Tanong Presidential Forum last night. The presidential aspirants came and they seemed all ready to be grilled, to be asked the really tough questions. But, instead, they were made to answer mostly “motherhood” questions that naturally elicited “motherhood” answers. Here are the questions asked (condensed and loosely translated from the vernacular).
(Mel Tiangco) What have you accomplished?
(Malou Mangahas) What three things do you plan to accomplish?
(submitted question) If elected to the presidency would you be willing to give up your position should you be implicated in allegations of corruption?
John Carlos “JC” de los Reyes
(Mel Tiangco) A candidate runs because he knows he has a chance of winning. Do you think you have the resources to win?
(student representative) You are against the Reproductive Health Bill because you say it tramples on the rights of women. How will you balance protecting women’s rights and addressing the country’s population problem?
(submitted question) How will you prove to the nation that you’re running for the good of the country and not for your own interest?
(Jessica Soho) Why are you running? For public service or for vengeance?
(student representative) What mistakes did you commit during your previous term that you will no longer commit should you be elected again?
(submitted question) Can you rid the government of corruption?
(Jessica Soho) We’ve been through a dictatorship. Why should you be elected considering that you’ve been characterized as a dictator and executioner?
(Atty. Victor Lazatin) You’re not ranking well in the surveys despite the fact that you’ve already gone around the country. You’ve also lost support from Lakas. Will you still push through with your presidential bid.
(submitted question) Do you have any other motive for running?
(Arnold Clavio) You are in favor of divorce. How do you expect to get the support of Catholic voters?
(John Nery) How do you differentiate yourself from Senator Loren Legarda who is also a high profile green (environment advocate) candidate?
(submitted question) What is your platform with regard to national security, corruption education and the millenium development goals?
(Arnold Clavio) You’re not ranking well in the surveys. Would you admit that President Arroyo is like heavy baggage?
(Mon Casiple) What is your final solution to insurgency?
(submitted question) Would you be amenable to having your assets frozen while you’re in office?
Bro. Eddie Villanueva
(Vicky Morales) You didn’t fare well in the 2004 presiential elections. What will you change in your present strategy to do better this time around?
(Howie Severino) Can you promise you won’t use the bible as basis for your policies and decisions in case you get elected?
(submitted question) What will you do to help the middle class?
(Vicky Morales) You are rumored to be PGMA’s secret candidate because you’re the least hostile. What is your stand on “Hello Garci” and the other issues involving the First Family?
(Winnie Monsod) You were part of the impeachment of Former President Estrada as Speaker of the House. Now, you’re being accused of using your office to enrich yourself. What makes your case different from that of Estrada?
(submitted question) what steps will you take to destroy the network or machinery of discrimination against workers?
While not a complete waste of time, the program did very little to provide the public with a clearer picture of what the candidates have to offer. It really didn’t help that none of the questions delved into the “How” as in “How do you plan to rid the government of corruption?” or “How will you improve the economy?”
The word “platform” was also mentioned a couple of times but no additional detail was provided. I expected GMA7′s award winning line-up of broadcast journalists to dig deeper but apparently the forum rules limited them to asking just one question. I guess they had to stay true to the program’s title ‘Isang Tanong’ or ‘One Question.’
The final round of questioning was supposedly a main highlight of the program. None other than CNN Hero of the Year awardee Efren Peñaflorida was tapped to ask the question. I have nothing but respect for Peñaflorida. What he has done to help poor children in Cavite get their basic education is truly commendable. However, I just can’t understand why, of all the possible questions, he had to ask this one: How can one be a hero?
All in all, I would say that the forum could have been done better. For one, I think the economist Winnie Monsod should have been designated as the lone interviewer. The question she asked of Senator Manny Villar was the only one that had a bit of a bite. As a viewer I would love to see Monsod taking the lead in future programs of this type.
Now, about the candidates. In general, none of them impressed me. Definitely not Bayani Fernando who was applauded by the students among the audience for his reply to Peñaflorida’s “hero” question. To me, the fact that they applauded him for his inane response is truly troubling.
You can watch the forum through this link.
I will try to write more about this later.