Tuesday, March 06, 2007

What I want to see in the debates

GO first accepted United Administration's challenge of a debate on the Economy. GO suggested that it be done in Plaza Miranda.

THE Genuine Opposition (GO) yesterday accepted the Team Unity’s challenge to a debate on the economy anytime on the condition it be held at Plaza Miranda in Quiapo.

GO spokesman Adel Tamano said: "We dare team GMA (Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo) to debate us in Plaza Miranda so they can see first hand if the so-called economic gains under the Arroyo administration are truly reaching the Filipino people."

Plaza Miranda is a symbol of freedom of assembly, a venue where anyone can freely air and debate issues.

And later in the article, Lacson thought it was absurd to just limit the debate on the economy:

In Agoo, La Union, Panfilo Lacson said he wants the debate to cover "all issues" instead of just the economy.

Lacson told a press conference that the debate should be freewheeling and include graft and corruption, as well as on MalacaƱang’s attempts to muzzle Congress’ oversight functions.

"Why limit ourselves to the economy? Let’s debate on issues such as the fertilizer scam, the telecom scam, Jose Pidal accounts, Macapagal boulevard, everything. The administration cannot just challenge the opposition to a debate then limit it to the economy. We are prepared to debate with them, with their candidates on legislation, on oversight functions," he said.

More from MLQ3:

Anyway, in finally accepting an opposition challenge to debate, the administration wants to keep the discussion to the economy, while denying the other side any opportunity to discuss inconvenient truths (that the opposition would do well to focus on). This is typical (and comes from an appreciation on which side its bread is buttered). As the Inquirer editorial today puts it (referring to something else),

The thing is, the President could answer all of these questions with grace and intelligence, but she always chooses to question the motivations of those posing them, always espying dark shadows behind the queries, and always demanding that the questions be made along her own line of inquiry, which is predictably favorable to her government. She does not only want to be President, she also wants to be stage manager.

The admin also nixed the Plaza Miranda setting and want the debate to be done in front of businessmen in a venue like the Manila Hotel. And as if on cue, the PCCI proposed the same thing to the Opposition-- hold the debates in front of businessmen, local and foreign.

THE Genuine Opposition (GO) yesterday turned down the invitation of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry to sponsor a debate with the administration’s Team Unity at the Manila Hotel.

"We thank Mr. Miguel Varela (PCCI chairman) and his group but the GO maintains that it is not the ideal venue," GO spokesman Adel Tamano said in a press conference at the coalition’s headquarters in Mandaluyong City.

The GO camp has accepted the challenge of Team Unity for a debate on economic issues provided it is held at Plaza Miranda in Quiapo.

Team Unity deputy spokesman Antonio "Tonypet" Albano, in a weekly forum, said anyone in Team Unity is prepared to face the members of GO in a public debate but not in Plaza Miranda which he said would cause a security nightmare to the PNP.
Tamano said groups from the University of the Philippines and even the Harvard Alumni Association have broached the idea of sponsoring the debate, but that "they have left the choice of venue entirely to us."

He said after the public debate, GO candidates can face Team Unity in another debate to be sponsored by the PCCI, Philippines Inc., the Employers Confederation of the Philippines, the Philippine Exporters Confederation and the Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

"We are open to all debates, but we want to do it first in a public place, and PCCI comes next," Tamano said.

Last Friday, Varela said that both GO and Team Unity camps have agreed to debate before business leaders.

The debate was scheduled at the Centennial Hall on March 14.

The businessmen’s debate was billed "2007 Senatorial Debate – Moving the Economy Forward!"

So here's the deal, here's how I think it should be done.

There should be three debates: One in Plaza Miranda for the public and the masa, one for the businessmen, foreign media and civil society, and one held in UP for the students and young people.

All three debates should be televised.

Unahin muna sa Plaza Miranda, then sa mga businessmen/foreign media/civil society, third sa UP.

I don't think it's practical to have all twelve candidates from TU and GO at the debates. 5 per group is too many IMO at magiging magulo lang debate, while sending only 3 from TU and GO is not enough.

I think the ideal is for TU and GO to send four candidates each. Include independent candidate Kiko Pangilinan in the debates, plus a member of Ang Kapatiran.

Now why hold a public debate at the Plaza Miranda? Well, it's to allow different candidates from TU and GO to shine. Having it at Plaza Miranda is not a disadvantage for TU since they have Tito Sotto at Cesar Montano. Same with GO to a lesser extent with Coseteng and Legarda.

My prediction on who GO and TU will send for a Plaza Miranda debate are:

TU: Sotto, Defensor, Montano and either Kiram or Ralph Recto

GO: Escudero, Coseteng, Lacson, Legarda

Pangilinan will probably not join, but one of the Ang Kapatiran candidates will. I considered Kiram because there are many Muslims in Quiapo. And I just can't see Joker participating in the Plaza Miranda debates (cuz he probably thinks it's beneath him).

Para sa mga Businessmen/Civil Society naman:

TU: Joker, Recto, Angara, and either Pichay or Defensor

GO: Lacson, Aquino, Villar, Escudero

Pangilinan will join, + One candidate from Ang Kapatiran. Baka hindi sumali si defensor because i can't really see the businessmen taking the young kid seriously (even tho contemporaries sila ni Escudero). Pichay is the more senior guy and a veteran of admin politics.

Para naman sa UP debates, ito ang sasali:

TU: Defensor, Angara, Zubiri, and either Tessie or Joker.

GO: Pimentel, Cayetano, Escudero, and either Roco or Lacson/Villar.

Pangilinan will definitely join + One Ang Kapatiran candidate. If TU trots out tessie, then GO should counter with Sonia Roco. If they trot out Joker, then GO should go with either Villar or Lacson. I guess may homecourt advantage sila Defensor, Angara, at si Koko Pimentel dahil taga UP sila, IIRC.

Ito dapat ang maging rules sa debate natin. Hindi pwedeng tanggalin ang Plaza Miranda debates. Hindi rin pwedeng tanggalin ang debate in front of businessmen and students. 3 debates. televised.

Since there's already a debate set up in the Centennial hall for the business community and civil society, there's no need for PCCI's Manila Hotel debate.

UPDATE: Eto pa ang sabi ni MLQ3:

The opposition was correct, I think, in refusing the attempt by the President’s pet businessmen to rig a debate. Conrado de Quiros explains why.

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