MANILA, Philippines – With the campaigns entering the homestretch, the closing segment of the #RapplerDebate on Saturday, April 13, could have well served as a rehearsal for senatorial candidates on selling themselves in a nutshell.
In 3 minutes each, the 6 invited candidates – Risa Hontiveros (Team PNoy), Teddy Casiño (Makabayan), Grace Poe (Team PNoy), Eddie Villanueva (Bangon Pilipinas), Bam Aquino (Team PNoy), and Richard Gordon (UNA) – told the audience on the ground and online: Why vote for me?
As soon as the closing remarks were made, Rappler, through the Mood Meter, aggregated the emotions that individual candidates had spurred online throughout the debates: happy, inspired, angry, annoyed.
Three of the candidates – all former and current lawmakers – stressed how their experience in the legislature and their push for meaningful laws make them qualified. This is despite the fact that they did not start with politically popular surnames.
Two bets, from the administration coalition, played up their experience in executive offices and presented what they have to offer other than being relatives of popular figures.
A preacher, who has been activist and educator, said he could serve as a moral compass in the Senate, if elected.
RISA HONTIVEROS (Team PNoy)
Hontiveros said she will push for the creation of an anti-corruption and good governance index against which government agencies will be measured. Their performance will serve as basis for their annual budgets.
Her candidacy, she said, is the second wind of President Benigno Aquino III’s 2010 campaign: “Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap.” (If no one is corrupt, no one will be poor.)
“I may have a surname that is not that popular, but I believe that the fruits of ‘Daang Matuwid’ should go to ordinary people, not in the pockets of a few,” Hontiveros said.
TEDDY CASIÑO (Makabayan)
Casiño said he will fight for farmers and workers, as he has done as activist and congressman. He called on voters to support him, “the voice of regular people,” and not just those who come from political dynasties.
He said he doesn’t have political pedigree or celebrity, nor does he come from a wealthy clan – factors that have long determined a candidate’s chances for election. “But I’m still confident, because even though I am not rich in money, I’m rich in principles.”
GRACE POE (Team PNoy)
Poe acknowledged that, like her late father when the latter ran for president in 2004, she is being belittled now for lack of experience in government. She has been told that her only capital in her senatorial bid is the name of her popular and well-loved father, Fernando Poe Jr.
She said her stint as chief of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board was enough to prepare her for legislative work, given its impact on all kinds of Filipinos.
“They belittle my MTRCB position…but if you wake up in the morning and before you sleep, I’m sure you watched something on TV or heard something on radio, maybe even watched a movie,” she said.
As censors chief, she said she played a huge role in “regulating the effect on culture” of what were being shown in the mass media. She said she had helped balance democracy, freedom of expression, and the right of parents over their children.
EDDIE VILLANUEVA (Bangon Pilipinas)
Villanueva said senators have come to him to say they need him in the Senate to serve as their moral compass. This makes sense, he said – moral leadership leads to good governance, economic growth, and prosperity for the people.
He comes to the voters with wisdom from what he had gone through as a social activitist, working student, educator, economist, communist, and even an atheist, before finally becoming a pastor and evangelist.
“My love for the country deepened when I felt the love of God,” he said. He is running for senator with “no personal agenda but love for country and the people.”
BAM AQUINO (Team PNoy)
Aquino, like fellow Team PNoy candidate Hontiveros, said he wants to be part of the second chapter of President Benigno Aquino III’s campaign slogan, “Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap.” (Without corruption, there is no poverty.)
He stressed more his accomplishments as social entrepreneur than as youth commissioner in the past administration. He said he has helped improve the lives of poor communities by teaching them enterprise. “Kahit napakahirap isiping ang Pilipino ay may negosyo, trabaho, at edukasyon, naniniwala akong kaya natin kung sama-sama,” he said. (Even if it’s very difficult to imagine Filipinos having businesses, jobs, education, I believe we can do it, if we do it together.)
Like all the Aquinos who sought Senate seats before him, he made references to his martyred uncle, Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr and the mass demonstrations that brought the latter’s wife to the presidency: “Si Bam Aquino po ay isang anak ng People Power. Si Bam Aquino po, noong batang bata, nakita ko po kung paano namatay ang aking Tito Ninoy. Iyon po ang nagbukas sa aking puso, ‘yung kanyang sakripisyo, nagbukas sa aking puso pagdating sa public service.”
(Bam Aquino is a son of People Power. When I was a kid, I saw the murder of my Uncle Ninoy. This is what opened my heart to public service.)
“I did not inherit my father’s name, or my mother’s name, or their work… I was told you earn everything. You do not inherit fame,” Gordon said, before enumerating how he had helped empower Filipinos through the various posts he held:
- “Pinalabas ko ang galing ng mga Pilipino sa pagtulong” (I tapped into Filipinos’ capability to help) as chair of the Philippine Red Cross.
- “Ang pinalabas ko po, Wealth of Wonders ang ating bayan – WOW Philippines” (I showcased our country as a Wealth of Wonders, WOW Philippines) as secretary of the Department of Tourism.
- “Nakaya po nating magkaroon ng automated elections” (I proved that we were ready for automated elections) as author of the new automated elections system law.
“Ang kailangan po natin is somebody who knows kung ano ang gusto niya. Tayong lahat, alam natin kung ano ang ayaw natin. Panahon na para alamin natin kung ano ang gusto natin.” (What we need is somebody who knows what he wants to accomplish. We should know what we don’t want. It’s about time we should be sure what we want.) – Angela Casauay, Natashya Gutierrez, Paterno Esmaquel II/Rappler.com
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