X users disappointed, but optimistic about debate
MANILA, Philippines – How did you feel about the Commission on Elections’ first presidential debate?
The debate held on February 21 elicited some strong reactions about the candidates, the debate, and the upcoming elections. (READ: The Cagayan de Oro Presidential Debate: Summary and higlights)
There were some who expressed disappointment towards the candidates’ performance, while others continued to show their support for their bets.
Reactions toward the debate continued well after the event was concluded. On X, a free platform for Rappler’s community, several netizens continued the conversation online.
MovePH, Rappler’s citizen engagement arm, picked several entries to show what some users had to say:
Rehashed and motherhood statements
One of the common sentiments from the debate was that candidates played it safe, and many criticized the lack of specific answers to the issues from that night.
“As I see it, they just explained themselves for who they were, who they are, and who they will be. It should be about the nation and the people but unfortunately, it turned to telling us what they have already done (they believe), in our country,” wrote one user, AC Fatalla. (READ: Explaination)
Netizens expressed their desire to move beyond textbook responses and similar answers.
In his story on the sentiments of the Move community in Iloilo, Closet Chronicles said, “While the debate was supposed to help us decide which presidential aspirant had the most promising platform, it turned out to be just another press conference for them to hard-sell why they think they out-smart and out-perform the other.”
Sam Santos wrote: “What we ask from our candidates now is to delve deeper – to show that their platforms stand out. The people ask for concrete implementation, not mere suggestions. The people ask for innovative ideas for the future, not clichéd sentences of the past.” (READ: The Problem of “Promises in the Sky”)
According to Rappler’s movers in Cagayan de Oro, Stephen Pedroza and Monica Borja, there were also members of their community who were not satisfied with the answers.
One of them was Xavier University-Ateneo de Cagayan student leader Edison Lacea. “Nalipay ko nga nahisgotan nila og apil ang Mindanao sa ilang mga tagsa-tagsang adyenda. Apan, dismayado ako mahitungod nga wala ko’y nakit-an na kalahian sa ilang mga tubag sa mga isyu. Mura ba og pare-parehas lang ang mga tubag nila.”
(I am happy that they talked about Mindanao. But dismayed as well because there were no differences in their responses to the issues. It's like all their answers were the same.)
New generation of empowered voters
While many expressed their disappointment in the outcome of the debate, there were some Filipinos who were optimistic about the elections’ future. They saw in the debates evidence of how the Philippines’ electoral environment is slowly changing.
In an article, One Carlo Diaz wrote: “We are starting to recognize that just like in relationships, progress relies on the effort of both the government and us, the electorate. Watching the debate might be simple, but it’s a gesture of an awakened patriotism.” (READ: Awakening National Consciousness)
Others observed how this year’s election is one of the most closely watched in the country’s recent history. They attributed this to the advances in technology and more accessible communication platforms like social media.
This, in turn, has created a new generation of politically conscious and empowered youth characterized by their active engagement in discussions on national issues.
X user baszkupas wrote, “An informed youth with genuine interest and inherent responsibility in social and political issues is one of the best harbingers of progress.”
If people were to judge the debates on how it guided them in selecting candidates, then many thought the debates were a letdown.
Jum Jum Ouana expressed dismay at how air time was used for advertisements instead of giving candidates sufficient time to answer. He also criticized what he saw as disorganization among the candidates.
“What was expected to be war of the Titans was somehow disappointing when some candidates came either unprepared, confused of the mechanics, or not physically or mentally sound,” he wrote. (READ: Cebuano Youth’s Reaction to the First Philippine Presidential Debate 2016)
Those who were disappointed, however, were not hopeless. With two more debates scheduled, they saw reason to hope. (READ: 5 things to do if the Comelec wants a real debate)
Steph Ilacad shared: “Nonetheless, there still are other presidential debates scheduled and I am personally hoping that these will result to a more fruitful discussion and more important issues will be covered. We actually do need more time to contemplate as to who we should vote for.” (READ: "I need more time") – Regina Francisco and Aina Licodine/Rappler.com
Regina Francisco and Aina Licodine are Rappler interns. Regina is a graduate of BS Business Administration at UP Diliman, and Aina is studying BA Communication in Far Eastern University.