UniTeam's push for platform-based discussions reshapes PH election debates

18 February 2022

THE UniTeam's tenacity in pushing for platform-based discussions has paid off, resulting in a pre-election debate without the candidates' usual free-for-all muckraking and name-calling Filipino voters have grown tired of for years.

The presidential debate organized by Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI) at the Okada Manila Hotel and Resorts on Tuesday is seen by many as having the ideal format to encourage a free-flowing exchange of ideas among presidential candidates, giving voters a preview of their platforms and advocacies.

The three-part debate lasted for four hours and featured presidential frontrunner Ferdinand 'Bongbong' Marcos Jr., former presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella, labor leader Leody De Guzman, and former defense chief Norberto Gonzales.

The debate panel consisted of UP Professor Dr. Clarita Carlos, The Manila Times President and CEO Dante "Klink" Ang II, former Iloilo Cong. Rolex Suplico, and SMNI senior correspondent MJ Mondejar.

Each candidate had a time limit of a few minutes to answer the questions from the debate panelists and was allowed to give rebuttals.

The panel members did not hold back in pressing answers for hot-button topics such as the West Philippine Sea issue, foreign policy, agriculture, economy, education, counterinsurgency, and others.

Marcos eloquently discussed his platform of government and his priority programs in every area, and the said feat would not be possible had the 'typical debate’ format hosted by other media organizations been implemented.

Those who watched the debate from start to finish appreciated the novel format, saying it was a 'game-changer' since it brought relevant topics back to the fore instead of being drowned out by noise.

SMNI's presidential debate is a stark contrast from those that often show candidates spending a large chunk of time defending themselves from personal attacks and innuendos, constantly losing their train of thought due to heckling from an unruly audience.

Often, viewers are left dismayed and angered because they have not heard much-needed solutions to issues directly impacting their lives.

Earlier in their campaign, Marcos and his running-mate, vice-presidential candidate Sara Duterte, pledged to shun negative campaigning in their candidacy for the May 9, 2022 elections. 

During his VP run in 2016, Marcos encouraged fellow candidates not to engage in negative campaigning.  This appeal fell on deaf ears as he was frequently mocked and harangued during televised debates.

"Now and during the campaign period, we candidates should present to the electorate discourses, speeches, and statements that are issue-based and in a dignified and decent manner," Marcos previously said in a statement in 2016.

Marcos ramped up his call for unity in his recent campaign sortie in Quezon City. 

He said his message of unity had become a movement which he called 'Kilusan ng Pagkakaisa' and encouraged everyone to participate in nation-building.

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FILIPINO VERSION

PLATFORM-BASED FORUM NA SULONG NG UNITEAM ITINAAS ANG KALIDAD NG DEBATENG PANG-ELEKSYON

TILA nagbunga ng maganda ang matagal nang isinusulong ng UniTeam na “platform-based” na talakayan sa mga debate sa halalan para maiwasan ang maruming pulitika at batuhan ng putik na inaayawan na ng mga botante.

Nakita ng marami na ang inorganisang presidential debate ng Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI) sa Okada Manila Hotel and Resorts nitong Martes, ang siyang ideyal na format ng debate para ang mga kandidato ay malayang makapaghayag ng kanilang mga plataporma at adbokasiya ng walang bangayan.

Tumagal ng halos apat na oras ang debate na may tatlong bahagi na dinaluhan ng presidential frontrunner na si Ferdinand 'Bongbong' Marcos Jr., dating tagapagsalita ng Malakanyang na si Ernesto Abella, labor leader Leody De Guzman, at dating defense chief Norberto Gonzales.

Kabilang naman sa mga panelist ng debate sina UP Professor Dr. Clarita Carlos, The Manila Times President at CEO Dante "Klink" Ang II, dating Iloilo Cong. Rolex Suplico, at SMNI senior correspondent MJ Mondejar.

Lahat ng kandidato ay pinayagang makasagot ng dalawang minuto sa mga tanong ng panelist at pinapayagan ding mag-rebuttal.

Hindi naman maiwasan ng mga miyembro ng panel na gisahin ang mga kandidato sa mga maiinit na isyu tulad ng West Philippine Sea, foreign policy, agrikultura, ekonomiya, edukasyon, insurhensiya at iba pa.

Lumutang naman si Marcos sa pagpapaliwanag niya ng kanyang mga plataporma at iba pang mga priority programs.

Ayon sa nakararami, ang platform-based debate ang pinakatama at pinakamaayos na porma ng debate sapagkat nabibigyan ng pagkakataon ang mga kandidato na maipaliwanag ng maayos ang kanilang mga posisyon na hindi kailangang magbangayan sa isat-isa.

Maraming nanood ang nagsabi na “game-changer” umano ang naturang debate ng SMNI dahil inilabas nito ang mas mahahalagang paksa sa halip na mag-focus sa “gutter politics.”

Naiiba rin daw ang format ng SMNI sa ibang debate na kadalasan ay nauubos ang oras ng mga kandidato sa pagtatanggol sa mga personal na atake sa kanila na kadalasan ay nasisira pa ang konsentrasyon sa pagsagot dahil may mga kasamang mga manonood at mga taga-suporta na nakikisawsaw at nanggugulo sa debate.

Kadalasan ay dismayado ang taumbayan dahil hindi nila naririnig ang mga plataporma at plano ng kandidato sa kanila.

Matagal nang iginigiit ni Marcos at kanyang running-mate na si vice-presidential candidate Sara Duterte, na hindi sila makikisali sa negatibong pangangampanya.

Kahit noong tumakbo siya ng 2016 bilang bise-presidente ito na rin ang matagal na panawagan ni Marcos.

"Now and during the campaign period, we candidates should present to the electorate discourses, speeches, and statements that are issue-based and in a dignified and decent manner," ani Marcos noong 2016 elections.

Iginigiit naman ng UniTeam ang kanilang panawagan na pagkakaisa at sama-samang pagbangon muli mula sa hagupit ng pandemya.

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