The national election is almost at our doorsteps. The Filipinos will again exercise its right to suffrage. The presidential debate dubbed PiliPinas 2016 held in Cagayan de Oro last February 21 gave the Filipino community opportunity to seal their choices after evaluating the presidential candidates political platforms. Thus, the Filipinos should be critical voters, basing their decisions on the capacity of leaders to respond to issues than just lip service.
Based on a video coverage by Rappler, Jejomar Binay Sr. focused on poverty in the country. He argued that his personal experiences growing up poor himself have made him understand what the marginalized have been going through. However, using personal experiences as mere basis for understanding the plight of the poor is a fallacy. Binay must instead provide tangible facts and statistics for this matter. Needless to say, Binay seemed more on the defensive side when asked about his unexplained wealth, which is under scrutiny by the Ombusdman.
On one hand, Miriam Santiago emphasized that corrupt government officials are the major hindering factors to achieving national progress despite the country’s richness in people natural resources. A constitutionalist herself, Santiago offered well-thought ideas. Yet, her frail body could not deny her health issues. She was visibly having a hard time expressing herself on public. Now, will Filipinos trust the country with a leader facing uncertain health conditions? That is indeed a thought that needs consideration.
On the other hand, Rodrigo Duterte vowed to end criminalities such as drugs and corruption in a matter of months. However, he did not present a scientific approach as to how he could accomplish such a lofty mission given the deadline. He also added the shift to federal government but unable to explain the disadvantages of the said political change. Looking at his remarkable track record, the whole country must be a big place to control compared to what he has had in Davao.
Meanwhile, Grace Poe focused on the needs of Mindanao, saying that the country relies on the island group for majority of agricultural products. She said that she would allot 30% of the national budget to address problems in the said region. On the contrary, she was not able to present policies that will address the national picture. Her options seemed limited, thus, lacking in depth and national coverage.
Mar Roxas took pride of his long political career especially being the Secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government. He compared himself to an experienced and loyal driver who secures the safety of one’s children. Reading between the lines, Roxas highlighted the weaknesses of his rivals, suggesting that he, being PNoy’s presidential bet, is the best vehicle to achieving the straight path. But who could forget the slow recovery of Yolanda victims? Was it not Roxas who was supposedly at the forefront of the said disaster?
The Filipino voters must indeed pause for a while, reflect on their options, and use their conscience judiciously. We cannot afford to pin our hopes on the empty promises of our leaders. Though we recognize that the next president is far from perfect, he or she must have the political will to implement changes in the country. The Filipino voters must evaluate the track record of the presidential candidates, assess their political platforms, and write on their ballots the name that speaks of service and change.
Made by: Eustacia Maree Emerald M. Saito of 11-G