#PiliPinas2016 debates: Unsatisfactory

#PiliPinas2016 debates: Unsatisfactory
Abril Layad Ayroso

Our presidential elections are still rooted in slogans and shallow matters.

Even during the first of the #PiliPinas2016 debates, which aimed to provide intelligent discussions on the candidates’ platforms and stands, the presidential candidates fell back to the slogans from their campaign advertisements.

Between the time limit imposed on the debate and the inexcusable amount of ad hominem attacks on another’s character (completely irrelevant to the debate) made by Vice Pres. Binay and former DILG Sec. Roxas, the presidentiables failed to give us any new substantial information on their plans should they win the presidency.

Sadly, the debate ended up failing to properly address many of the issues it tackled, and completely ignored education and the problems of the youth, despite the fact that young people currently make up a relatively large percentage of voters.

The next two presidential debates are supposedly going to be held with a panel format and a town-hall (open forum) style. Hopefully, this leads to a real debate and not catfights, like some anticipate. However, given the corporate nature the mainstream media, the following debates are in danger of having unsatisfactory endings like the first one.

Meanwhile, outside these debates, the candidates continue to churn out promotional materials and advertisements. Right now, advertisements for most candidates bank on past achievements, regardless of whether it affects the quality of public service or not.

The financially-challenged candidates have a very limited reach with their campaign, as opposed to their established and wealthy rivals. Just knowing of the existence of a candidate is a big factor in the elections, and those who cannot fund a big campaign may not even get the chance to argue their platforms.

The slogans have not changed – they are still mostly hollow words meant to entice the poor majority to vote for them. Then again, the problems of the Philippines are still the same, despite presidents bragging about progress under their respective regimes. For instance, the outgoing Aquino administration has been arrogantly touting its so-called “daang matuwid” as a way forward: this, despite the worsening Metro Manila traffic; the Yolanda survivors still struggling; the Lumad constantly enduring harassment and violence from military and paramilitary groups; the Philippines facing threats to its education system, environment, AND national sovereignty like you wouldn’t believe.

As it stands, Roxas is dead-set on becoming BS Aquino 2.0, which basically means literally no change whatsoever. Binay stands strong in the surveys with his “I was poor like you once” schtick, but he is not the first (rich) politician to attempt this, nor is he the most sincere; the allegations of corruption against him and his ilk only serve to unnerve voters even further.

Duterte’s brand of discipline sounds like it would work wonders – that is, if it wasn’t 2016 already, where state violence is never the real answer to anything. Some voters are already preparing for another Martial Law, should Duterte be elected (alongside vice-presidential candidate Bongbong Marcos). Poe’s being new to politics is a double edged sword: she is a candidate with a clean record, who has less political baggage than the rest. However, the reality is that if Poe wins, her advisors win – and we are screwed if her advisors do not have the best interests of the Filipino at heart. Santiago has a very strong position in terms of national sovereignty; however, her health and reasons for allying with the Marcoses are all very questionable.

Fundamentally, though, all their platforms do not differ much. They all try to appeal to the poor and needy, albeit via different slogans that all subscribe to neo-liberal policies that keep our national economy shackled and our working people enslaved. This is why we end up with a popularity poll every single time.

We cannot wait around for them anymore. The future of the Philippines isn’t theirs alone – it is ours as well, which is why we ourselves must change its course with our own hands.

Abril Layad Ayroso is a fourth year college student from Araullo University in Cabanatuan City. He is an editor of Viewpoint, the university’s official student publication.

Abril Layad Ayroso

CITIZEN VOICES features contributions from citizens with alternative views on various issues.

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