Surface, shallow, or deep knowledge of presidential aspirants up close | Inquirer Opinion
Sharp Edges

Surface, shallow, or deep knowledge of presidential aspirants up close

/ 04:00 AM February 01, 2022

After watching Boy Abunda’s and Jessica Soho’s presidential interviews, one gets a clearer idea which candidates are better or more deliberate. Of course, these are just verbal manifesta-tions, different from past ground actions, or “track record” of their previous public service.

Abunda’s show was gripping inside the “unedited” five minutes of the candidates’ responses. They exposed their knowledge, and it’s up to us whether they are surface, shallow or deep. Some grappled in explaining their plans of action, if any.


Jessica’s presentation was more focused on limited “soundbites” of candidates on very complex issues. Perhaps for a better term, it was a “fully edited television compilation” purposed with bells and whistles to achieve higher ratings. Former Sen. Bongbong Marcos refused to join the interview, claiming that Jessica has shown bias against the Marcoses.

But both approaches, although very different, succeeded in revealing a big part of the inner mind and public decorum of these aspirants, putting them under stress, specifically on contro-versial topics.


Boy’s patterned questions were helpful—the mining industry, COVID-19 solutions, poverty, OFWS and family disruptions, porn addiction on social media, abortion and criminal rape, war on drugs, West Philippine Sea/China, Philippine debt, presidential qualifications, same-sex mar-riage and a separate question on allowing ICC probers in the country. While these are just a drop in national problems, these presidential applicants will face them if they win.

Other broadcast networks also had succeeding interviews. These were dzRH’s “Bakit Ikaw?” (Is-ko Moreno begged off because of delicadeza since his ex-chief of staff Cesar Chavez is now VP-general manager) and dzBB’s “Ikaw Na Ba?” radio one on one.

These additional venues gave them the opportunity to strengthen their issues and/or correct their earlier errors. Actually, these rigorous live audio/video interviews are warm-ups to the first major skirmish which is the initial Comelec presidential debate this month.

As President, new problems happen almost every two days. In those situations, no matter how many advisers and consultants you have around, the buck stops on your lap. More so, when your best Cabinet secretaries having all correct answers, arguing, and asking you for the final decision. We need a President able to craft solutions as quickly as possible, not endless meet-ings and consultations (analysis-paralysis).

Sen. Ping Lacson, Ex-Sen. Bongbong Marcos, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, Sen. Manny Pacquiao and VP Leni Robredo claim that they have the solutions. But when asked on how they would do it, some could not give direct answers. I saw a flood of motherhood statements and political cliches such as “imprison corrupt people but with due process”, “internal cleansing”, “empow-erment of affected stakeholders”, “allow ICC if you have nothing to hide”, and a lot of self-praising. It was also unfortunate some candidates resorted to mudslinging and personal attacks, obviously exhibiting their judgmental character.

On a per topic issue, Isko and VP Leni shone on their on-ground experience in confronting the pandemic while Bongbong has “JOBS to JABS” plan. Lacson insists corruption, science based and data driven solutions, while Pacquiao said stop corruption and solve COVID-19.

On legalized abortion and Presidential qualifications, VP Leni, the lawyer stood out. All the oth-ers are pro-life.


On war on drugs, Lacson and Isko gave the best answers and plans.

Bongbong had a clear understanding of our edge in minerals as a mining country, its benefits and the necessary “controls” on environmental damage. Isko and Ping also had good plans.

The OFWs (Bagong bayani) was time for Isko to shine, saying this government is asking home-coming OFWS to pay their own RT-PCR tests. Bongbong and Lacson also had good ideas.

On poverty, Pacquiao cried, saying housing, jobs and livelihood are his plans. Isko cited his hous-ing, jobs, livelihood and medical care in Manila as clear solutions to help poor people. VP Leni stressed her inclusive “laylayan” plans for the poor.

On cyberporn and social media, Isko knows this issue and says he will cancel IP addresses of syndicates and social media platforms that allow their use, no matter how big they are. Lacson and Marcos also had good plans.

On corruption, I think all five gave good answers. But can they promise not to hire corrupt peo-ple around them when elected?

The West Philippine Sea exposed the anti-China leanings of VP Leni and Ping, while Bongbong and Pacquiao are pro-China. Isko was for “status quo” or no more expansion and joint trade with China.

These are just initial impressions but further interviews in other platforms will give us more specifics on each candidate’s position. Personally, I would want to know if they are decisive and quick enough in the implementation of their solutions.

So let us continue probing.

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