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Observations on the ‘fully edited’ presidential interviews

/ 04:00 AM January 25, 2022

I watched the entire three-hour Jessica Soho “Presidential Interviews,” and it revealed close-up knowledge and character of four top Malacañang applicants.

The crucial segment on controversial issues with a follow-up question was most interesting.

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All candidates were given a uniform question, that is possible “unification” to defeat the leading candidate, ex- Sen. Bongbong Marcos, who declined the invitation to join the program.

Senator Manny Pacquiao bravely responded on his P2.2-B tax evasion issue, handing out cash personally, early support and fight with President Duterte, corruption in this administration, LGBTQ insult, his being a “naive drug user”, war on drugs and EJK.

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Senator Ping Lacson faced explosive and almost accusatory issues. “Are you honest”? “Did you kill somebody?”, “Can you look people in the eye?”, “Lawmaker turned into law breaker” after avoiding an arrest warrant on the Dacer-Corbito case. Discussed his “torture role” as PC-Metrocom commander during the martial law years and also as the principal author of the Anti-Terror Law, which SC declared has two unconstitutional amendments, which Lacson retorted, came from colleague Sen. Frank Drilon.

Isko Moreno was directly marked, “Nagkabayaran na ba, Mayor?” on the alleged P120M a month lobby fund on sidewalk vendors and City Hall corruption. He was tagged “hinog sa pilit” with no national exposure, a “trapo” (traditional politician) with questionable loyalty when he turned against benefactors Mayors Alfredo Lim, Joseph Estrada, and then compared to disgraced US President Donald Trump and Brazil’s Jair Bolzonaro for being “populist”, and provoking class war. He was questioned why he earlier alluded to VP Leni as a fake leader, fake character and fake colors.

He explained the “it’s [a] complicated relationship with Duterte” and whether he was opposition, administration, or floating. Again, he was tagged as “unprincipled” against martial law and the stolen loot of the Marcos family. And finally, his SALN, where excess political contributions, which he kept and paid taxes for, were highlighted.

VP Leni Robredo, in turn, was asked about her independent candidacy and Liberal Party, also on her earlier call for acceptance of vote-buying and conscience, foreign donations, “symbolic lugaw,” poverty in Camarines Sur and obsession to fight Bongbong Marcos. She was very lucky as her remaining questions were softer and generic, like her opinion on a “kamay na bakal presidency” and how she plans to improve her surveys.

The shortest time in that segment was 11 minutes and 52 seconds for Senator Pacquiao, 15 minutes for VP Robredo, and grueling 18 minutes each for Senator Lacson and Mayor Moreno. Honestly, I wondered what questions the producers would have fielded or how long the grilling had ex-Sen. Bongbong Marcos joined.

As former TV news and current affairs producer, I was surprised the show became an “edited compilation” of candidates’ responses to a single question. Some answers were short, long, and some parts edited. Some were thrilling, while feel-good platitudes were disappointingly repetitive.

I wonder if the producers would now release the “unedited versions” of the interviews of all candidates for the sake of transparency. Perhaps an unabridged one-on-one type since the “original material” was recorded that way. If done, we will know if the published “edited version” was true to form or which portions were cut. We may see the candidate’s decorum, especially during the hard or easy questions. An example would be one-on-one with Lacson and so on and so forth. But again, it is entirely the producers’ prerogative and they can refuse. At the end of the day, the “fully edited/crafted” Presidential Interviews program is now being judged by the people, whether it was really fair or otherwise.

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But on the whole, the exercise was beneficial and an eye-opener. And I believe Mayor Isko and Senator Ping stood out. They were very impressive and convincing even when openly accused but ably responded. They also revealed better doable plans, capability, and a solid track record.

I now look forward to the more natural one-on-one full interview of the five presidential aspirants, which started Monday by ABS-CBN TV guru Boy Abunda, and then the DZRH live presidential interviews today onwards to the more exciting live Comelec debates in February.

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