Inquirer.net : The problem with these presidential debates

1 March 2022

By Inquirer.net

In fairness to all concerned, I think Bongbong Marcos Jr. is right in declining to participate in the presidential debates conducted by TV stations, indicating he does not like the format. Indeed, if only these TV stations would be honest, at least to themselves if not confidentially to others, they should admit that their format is not really conducive to allowing the electorates to intelligently decide on which candidates to vote for on May 9.

Consider this. When asked what he intends to do to improve the plight of low-paid employees, one candidate readily answered he would raise the minimum wage from, say, the existing P500 or so in Metro Manila to P750 daily. Fine. But, then, it is a matter of plain common sense that that answer should deserve and immediately call for either a follow-up question from the panelists or some interpellation from the other candidates, such as, “if you do that, how would you prevent our small or medium industries from suffering losses or maybe from closing shop as a result of the new minimum wage law?” To say the least, that is certainly how a true debate should proceed, isn’t it?

Unfortunately, the TV stations can only be expected to deliberately skip or ignore the above-mentioned process, lest they unduly encroach upon the one-and-a-half minute they must allow each candidate to answer a particular question. And so, whether the TV stations accept it or not, these so-called presidential debates have been planned, in intent and effect, not as much to sincerely help the viewers to intelligently decide on whom to vote as to ensure the undiminished realization of revenues from commercials. This naked truth is kind of ironic but, as usual, business is business and must proceed, be it election season or not.