DAVAO CITY — The first leg of the Commission on Elections’ presidential debate held at Cagayan de Oro on Sunday, February 21, fell short of the expectations of Davao City residents.
They said that the Comelec-initiated debate did not include several pressing issues in Mindanao: power woes, extrajudicial killings, attacks against the indigenous people, peace and security, among others.
“Aside from poverty which had the lion’s share in the Mindanao segment of the debate, I think the debate failed to include the Mindanao energy crisis,” said Louie Gomez, 26, a government employee.
Gomez said the debate could be a good venue to promote voter’s education, but it focused more on “personality.”
“[The debate] moderators could have done a better job if they pressed more concrete solutions to Mindanao woes. What I heard from the candidates are very general plans. It would have been better if they laid out their specific plans in solving Mindanao woes, if only time permits. I find it very short-sighted,” he told DavaoToday in an interview.
University of Mindanao college student Ricardo Manansala, 20, said the debate has snubbed the issues about extra-judicial killings and the plight of Lumad in Mindanao.
“The issues about EJKs, militarization, attacks and displacement of Lumad in Mindanao are some of the topics that we want to hear from the candidates. Unfortunately, all these were not included. We want to know their stand on these issues,” Manansala said.
He urged presidential bets to publicly present their concrete plans, saying “these issues are not isolated alone in Mindanao.”
“I hope the next presidential debate will include them,” he said.
Meanwhile, public school teacher Jay Santa Cruz has described the 2-hour debate as a “publicity stunt” with presidential bets agreeing with each other than disagreeing.
“For me it is not a debate. It is very obvious that all of them are comfortable with each other probably because of ‘sanitized’ questions. The whole show was characterized with more agreements,” Cruz said. (davaotoday.com)