Coming Soon: The Aquino-Villar Debate (Updated)
Leading presidential aspirant Noynoy Aquino has thrown the gauntlet and his closest rival, Manny Villar, has accepted it: mano-a-mano, a one on one presidential debate.
It was a masterful ploy by Aquino, hurling the debate challenge during the presidential forum hosted by foreign correspondents, the latest forum Villar has skipped.
So Villar’s handlers were forced to issue a statement on their boss’s behalf, employing the worn out condition for the debate not to turn into a mudslinging match.
The Aquino-Villar debate harks back, in a way, to that first ever American presidential debate: the 1962 face-off between John Fitzgerald Kennedy and Richard Milhous Nixon that saw JFK capturing the imagination of US voters, projecting himself as physically more fit than Nixon and the man who was taking Americans to their Camelot.
Filipinos are surely not dreaming of Camelot.
They simply hope to find a new President with a genuine electoral mandate, one with a program of government that can help the Philippines shed its dubious monicker of being Asia’s sick man afflicted with the ailment akin to end stage cancer: CORRUPTION.
History records that up to 70 million American saw the televised three-part ‘Great’ Kennedy-Nixon debates in 1960.
We are now a nation with a burgeoning population of 90 million.
With radio and television straddling are entire archipelago, the Aquino-Villar debate surely holds the promise of providing the defining phase of the May 10 elections.
Permit this writer to propound the suggested issues for the two candidates to address:
• National security as it relates to the insurgencies, and RP-US relations;
• Reproductive health;
• Social justice as it relates to agrarian reform;
• The state of public education and the academic skills of our youth compared with our neighbour countries;
• The business climate and foreign investments as these relate to the national patrimony; and
• The fight against corruption as it relates to the civil service and local governments.
The list can be longer.
My own hope is for both men to be able to speak to the issues with prevarication and give as a true sense that either of them can lead us out of the morass many believe we are sinking in.
Let the debate begin.
This writer had the honor of discussing this post last night on ANC’s ‘Strictly Politics’ program hosted by Ms. Pia Hontiveros.
She noted how the spinmreisters of Messrs. Aquino and Villar are already billing their upcoming encounter as ‘The Great Debate’.
Me thinks such tag can only be used after the event, if it does indeed turn out to be a great exchange.
As for the other contenders who are bringing up the rear in the surveys, they’ll have to grin ang bear it.
The reality is the political derby has turned into a two-man race given the proximity of the polls,