My questions for the VP candidates | Inquirer Opinion

My questions for the VP candidates

12:04 AM April 12, 2016

AS EARLY as 4:50 p.m. on Sunday, I sat in front of my TV set to watch the vice presidential candidates’ debate scheduled to begin in 10 minutes on CNN Philippines. I was very enthusiastic and looked forward to finding out what else I could learn about the candidates in addition to what I’ve read and heard about them. I told myself that perhaps I could use the knowledge I would have gained as basis for my choices for president and vice president on Election Day.

I admire the way the debate was organized and I take my hat off to the moderators who never showed unfairness or impatience during the whole time they were on air. They were able to handle the misbehavior on or off the stage, on or off camera. What excellent composure lay behind their pretty faces and well-meaning body language. The addition of guest questioners added variety and interest to the event.

Since the candidates—five senators and a congresswoman—must have been provided the topics ahead of time, there was no question about their preparedness to address every issue for discussion. Not one left an issue hanging; each had a ready answer no matter how difficult the topic. Most were careful to answer every issue based on what his or her party or presidential candidate thinks.

In terms of delivery, they must have rehearsed how they would look, smile or smirk to convince the audience to believe what they had to say. I think they have mastered the techniques of propaganda, or they could have hired coaches to train them in how to look convincing and when to add catchy phrases to enliven their delivery. In short, they projected themselves very well in matters of what and how to deliver.


But at the end of it, I still did not know who to vote for as vice president. I felt I should make a choice after spending much time and energy watching the debate and taking down notes on the issues discussed. I knew it would be futile to find a perfect candidate, for there is no such person. I should be looking for someone with competence, experience, compassion, honesty and commitment.

While studying my notes, I thought of how the candidates behaved on stage. I thought someone could have asked them some more questions, like those I had in mind.

These questions should have been directed at Alan Peter Cayetano: With your claim that political will and courage can make your presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte bring back peace and order nationwide, how can we be sure that he can do it without the rumored extrajudicial killing of suspected criminals? What about his rumored twice-weekly dialysis? Could you be eyeing the presidency because of this ailment?

My next questions are for Gregorio Honasan: How can we trust that you will honor your words when almost all your answers were motherhood statements usually uttered by politicians who would rather be vague than be blamed for promising something difficult to accomplish? Many have lamented the fact that your partner, Jejomar Binay, never honored the Senate’s invitation to the series of hearings on his unexplained wealth. To many people, that was a sure sign of guilt. Being associated closely with the Vice President, could you have acquired the same attitude through osmosis?


Here is my question for Ferdinand Marcos Jr.: How can we trust someone who believes that martial law was a blessing to the Filipino people? (I heard this from a broadcast of an interview with him. These were his exact words: “Should I apologize for the concrete roads and bridges? Should I apologize for the peace and order?”) When asked if he would apologize for the human right violations committed by his family, he said there was nothing to apologize for because he himself had never violated any  human right or committed any form of corruption. He also insisted that the payment due the martial law victims had not been released because the current ruling party was blocking it. Watching him speak made me feel he would be very much like his father some years from now.

These questions are for Francis Escudero: With your boy-next-door type of personality brimming with self-confidence, how can we be sure that you are sincere in everything you say? Due to my misgivings about Sen. Grace Poe’s lack of competence in governance, I was afraid many of her supporters would take advantage of her inexperience. Under her presidency, our country might be dragged economically backward instead of continuing what the previous administration has established. Another question: How can you help her prevent this from happening?


Antonio Trillanes III looked bright and determined to succeed, but I couldn’t shake off his image of being a rebel against civil authority. This is my question: How would you help preserve civil society after launching a coup attempt against then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo?

I was not able to think of any question for Leni Robredo. In a very touching way, she expressed her ideas in clear and simple terms. Although she was new in the House of Representatives, she was sponsor or cosponsor of bills concerning the welfare of families, children and women. If elected, she said, her target job would be streamlining and coordinating all the poverty programs of the previous administration to cut the red tape that the poor are expected to hurdle in order to receive the benefits they deserve.

This sounds simple, but it can really make a great impact on poverty alleviation.

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Elena Cruz-Cutiongco is a retired teacher who “wants to vote for candidates who deserve to be the next leaders of our dear country.”

TAGS: Commentary, Elections, opinion, vice presidentiable debate, VP

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