Last debate an improvement, but still lacking – experts, advocates
Did the presidential bets deliver in their last chance to woo voters?

NOT ENOUGH. it was an improvement from the past two debates, but it still was not enough in terms of providing details of the candidates' platforms. Photo by the Manila Bulletin

MANILA, Philippines – Did the presidential candidates give enough for voters to chew on in the last presidential debate? (READ: Substance, ignored issues should be last debate’s focus – advocates)

For Rappler’s pool of experts and advocates, it was an improvement from the past two debates, but it still was not enough in terms of providing details of the candidates’ platforms.

The advocates were displeased with the number of general statements during the debate, contrary to their hopes for more concrete plans.

Missing details in labor

Among the topics which struck a chord with the experts were labor contractualization and the plight of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

During the discussions on these issues, candidates proposed plans to end contractualization and supporting OFWs.

Micheline Rama of Dakila Philippines said the candidates only saw overseas work as a matter of choice, ignoring human trafficking and modern slavery.

According to the US State Department’s Human Rights Report, 400,000 women are trafficked within the Philippines annually. Around the world, the number of trafficked men, women, and children is 10 million.

The United Nations Office on Drug and Crime placed the Philippines as “high” in terms of human trafficking cases. (READ: Human trafficking 101: What trafficking is all about)

Although the candidates mentioned plans to protect OFWs by training the embassies to answer their needs or by giving them financial options, Rama and sociologist Jayeel Cornelio noted how some issues related to OFWs were not tackled.

Activists have long slammed the government for a labor export policy. Remittances from OFWs have totaled $2.7 billion in 2015, according to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

In 2014, 2.320 Filipinos worked abroad, according to the 2014 Survey on Overseas Filipinos by the Philippine Statistics Authority. For many of them, poverty and a lack of opportunities pushed them to work abroad instead. (READ: Mary Jane Veloso and the female victims of ‘labor export’)

Time’s up

For people who have used the debates to gain better insight, this was the candidates’ last chance to woo them.

However, past debates have also been slammed for lacking substance.

During the Cagayan de Oro leg, members of the crowd said they would have wanted to hear the candidates talk about the plight of persons with disabilities, indigenous people’s groups, the political involvement of the youth, and education.

Experts also criticized the first debate for not tackling LGBT issues, urban development, and climate change.

Although climate change and education brought up in later debates, advocates still wished for more concrete ideas and substance.

Meanwhile, this was how some Twitter users summarized the outcome of the debate: 

But with all the debates behind them, time is up and the Filipinos will now have to make decisions with what they have.


– Bea Orante/