Sun.Star Davao

Why debates matter in an election

- TYRONE VELEZ tyvelez@gmail.com

When Mayor Sara Duterte chided the opposition for its fixation on debates, she was saying one truth about elections: politician­s strive to entertain during campaigns, and not to educate.

Here is what Mayor Sara’s senatorial slate Hugpong has been doing. Bong Go produced a skit maligning Kris Aquino. Bato dela Rosa made a joke in Pampanga that he should kiss a Pampangueñ­a so he can speak Kapampanga­n.

Her slate includes Bong Revilla, who has an amazing story of getting away from jail with 124-million peso pork barrel. JV Ejercito and Jinggoy Estrada are a great duo with a love-hate relationsh­ip. Imee Marcos is playing a fictional character with a Princeton and UP Law degrees.

So, here we are, at an important phase in our country, a mid-term election to determine a Senate that can either support Duterte’s plans or maintain its check and balance role. Yet, we have administra­tion candidates shying away from debates.

Bato dela Rosa explained that the measure of a candidate is not in debating skills but in actions. Yet, he misses the point. Senators are supposed to show skills in analyzing and discussing the merits of laws and governance.

What better place to show that but in debates.

But so far, opposition candidates, from Otso Deretso to Makabayan’s Neri Colmenares, have appeared in televised debates and raised the issues that matters: protecting people’s rights, solving unemployme­nt, TRAIN law, fighting corruption.

We hardly hear from the Hugpong slate about this.

Some appeared in these debates but they come out as defending the administra­tion position. In a recent public debate in the populated Quiapo, not a single Hugpong candidate showed up.

With their no-show, Otso Deretso candidate Erin Tañada said that the Hugpong bets are putting the mayor in an embarrassi­ng position.

Think about this, if candidates shy away from public debates, what assures us that these candidates, if they win, can engage with fellow lawmakers in making laws?

How can they translate their “Pagbabago” tagline into laws? They can’t just remain quiet, crack jokes and entertain the public in the Senate. We already have Sotto and Pacquiao for that.

We should remember what Otso Deretso candidate Chel Diokno said, “We make laws, this is not a contest on who has the biggest tarpaulins.”

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