Support for televised presidential debates
Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon today supported the call by some quarters for the need of presidential debates on television that would enable the Filipino electorate to evaluate the candidates in the May 2010 elections.
Gordon lauded the call made by Pastor Boy Saycon and his group, Halalang Marangal, for prime time debate in major networks, at least for presidential candidates, as practical and sensible.
"That is what we need, an avenue for presidential candidates to present their platform of government. This way, the electorate will get to know the candidates and they will be able to evaluate their competence, integrity and reliability to lead the country and would not have to rely on surveys in choosing the country's leaders," he said.
Gordon has earlier filed Senate Bill No. 2079, which seeks to mandate major television and radio networks to sponsor at least three national debates among presidential candidates and at least one national debate among vice presidential candidates. Each debate shall not be less than sixty minutes, exclusive of airtime for commercials and advertisements.
"The debates would be very useful as they would help the electorate get to know the candidates. We will see the last of meeting the avances usually attended by candidates who are only full of promises but offering no concrete action plans. The debates would enjoin a candidate to prepare concrete action plans in consonant with his or her platform of government in order to weigh more favorably against the opponents," he noted.
The senator noted that though the Fair Elections Act requires the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to procure free airtime from at least three national television and radio networks for equal allocation to all candidates for national office, there is currently no mechanism that requires nationally elected candidates to make known their position on matters of national significance through intelligent debate.
Gordon pointed out that in the recent presidential elections in the United States, the electorate gained an insight on the two candidates through the debates that were strategically held throughout the campaign period.
"Look at the recently-held presidential elections in the US, the debates helped the electorate decide on which candidate to vote for because the debates gave the electorate an insight on the two candidates' position on matters of national significance," he said.