by [nggallery id=3] Alexandra Gabrielle Francisco. Photos by Roehl Niño Bautista
Eight presidential candidates talked law and politics, social issues, and economy at The Philippine Daily Inquirer First Edition: The Presidential Debate, the national daily’s first ever presidential debate held Monday.
PDI partnered with the UP College of Mass Communication (CMC) in presenting the debate together with Globe Telecom and 14 other partner institutions.
Speaking on press freedom, candidate Eduardo Villanueva said the media should be allowed to carry firearms to protect themselves.
The killing of 57 civilians, including 30 journalists in Maguindanao will never happen in an Eddie Villanueva administration, said the Bangon Pilipinas standard bearer.
“Hindi na aabot doon dahil kung mayroong political will ang isang presidente na merong moral leadership (The killings will not happen if a president with moral leadership has political will),” said Villanueva.
Present at the two-hour debate were Benigno Aquino III, John Carlos de los Reyes, Richard Gordon, Maria Ana Consuelo Madrigal, Nicanor Perlas, Jr., Gilbert Teodoro, Jr., Villanueva, and Manuel Villar, Jr.
Former President Joseph Estrada was a no-show at the debate held at the University of the Philippines Theater, despite being one of the first candidates to signify initial attendance.
In response to a question from CMC dean Roland Tolentino, Nationalista Party standard bearer Villar said the Maguindanao massacre would not happen again if all private armies are dismantled.
To do this, Villar said the government must strengthen the armed forces and increase the human development index in the area.
Residents joined private armies because of poor education, health and job providing services said Villar.
“Hangga’t hindi natin inaangat yan, lahat yan magiging bodyguard (Until those are not raised, all the residents would become bodyguards.),” said Villar.
Another question from the floor came from CMC student Franz Jonathan de la Fuente, a third year journalism major, about increasing the relevance of the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK), the country’s governing youth council.
Lakas-KAMPI-CMD’s presidential bet Teodoro said the organization needs to be streamlined and the age for electing councilors should be reduced to 18.
“While retaining the separate identity of the young, there should be some transition from the SK to regular politics,” said Teodoro.
“Perhaps (reducing the age) would make the transition between purely youth issues and actual governance by way of community governance more apparent,” the former national defense secretary said.
CMC students volunteered in various production and logistics capacities during the debate.
CMC lecturer John Nery, PDI senior editor, columnist, and First Edition’s overall organizer, said the debate was not meant to be the best measure of a candidate’s ability.
“All we can hope for,” said Nery, “is that the candidate’s character—or lack of it—will be disclosed and their confidence—or lack of it.”