Popular presidential candidate Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III is a real class act. Through his Media mouthpieces (in whatever official or unofficial way they step up to that role) he is now bieng presented to the public as the one who is now supposedly on top of the Presidential Debate situation. One of them in a recent article takes a two-pronged approach to spinning the “great debate” brouhaha in Noynoy’s favour:
Prong 1: Noynoy is “waiting” for a response to his “challenge”
The Noted One in his usual verbose form in that article I cited above basically highlights two facts on the matter: (1) Aquino issued a challenge for a one-on-one debate to leading rival Manny Villar, and (2) Villar has so far accepted but made no further moves forward. Strip out all the apologies for either side that the Noted One makes and it boils down to just those two. But then he inserts this little interesting sting:
Aquino has expressed exasperation with the foot-dragging of Villar, who, after all, has a marked disinclination to engage in interpolation in the Senate, unlike Aquino’s dogged reputation (dating back to his days in the House) for being the “last man standing.”
Think again, folks. There is one little detail left out in all that, and that is that Noynoy Aquino had earlier made a subsequent pronouncement to that “challenge” to Villar. He had announced that he would no longer be joining presidential debates. This was picked up by Journal Online reporter Joel de la Torre in a 12th March 2010 report. In that report, de la Torre noted that…
Aquino said debates are no longer in the LP’s list of activities. He said aside from being a waste of time, debates do not attract listeners or viewers
In that report, Noynoy was quoted as saying this about debates: “I’ll be very honest with you, sino ba ang nakikinig doon?” (second half in Tagalog translated thus: “who listens to those debates anyway?”).
First of all AntiPinoy.com blogger BongV picked up on this need for Aquino to qualify his statements with a reminder that he is being “very honest” now. Well now you are Mr. Aquino, so you say. But were you so in the past?
Second, I’ll tell you who listens to debates, Noynoy: smart people do. Perhaps that little fact does not matter to you on account of your followers and the sort of people you are able to convert to your camp being anything but. Your sort of crowd follow their gut and your emo politics. Worse, they fight your battles for you following your cowardly tactics.
Indeed, one such cowardly tactic is to continuously downplay aspects of the essence of democracy — the ones that scare Noynoy and his followers the most; the ones that invoke and require our thinking faculties. This brings us to the second of the Noted One’s prongs:
Prong 2: Debates are a waste of time
The Noted One echoes Aquino’s sentiments perfectly, except that he applies the sort of verbose pomposity we have come to expect of Establishment Bloggers to muddle what is essentially the reality of the questionable value of debates to (a) the leading candidate (Aquino) who has everything to lose if he fails to shine, and (b) the closest challenger (Villar) who in recent weeks had successfully narrowed the leader’s lead and therfore sees no further point in engaging.
But see, that’s the mind of a gamer of numbers at work. Politicians are the players in an election and therefore they can be excused for their focus on the numbers. Their objective is to win the game. Thus they are motivated by simple metrics and simple return-on-investment criteria. For Villar and Aquino, their main question when regarding the debates is “What’s in it for my chances of winning this election?” And to that point, The Noted One, lays out the landscape in his usual brilliant form.
I might remind our community of bloggers, though, (at least those of us who see ourselves as guardians of the interests of the people — our readers — who look to us for valuable insight) that we are NOT among the players in these elections. We are the arbiters, commentators, and the informers. We are in a position that affords us the luxury to remain loyal to the whole point of election campaigns. Actually there are two:
(1) Elections are about choosing, our next leader; and,
(2) Campaigns pit the options against one another.
The above two points are from our perspective — the people who will be subject to the ultimate outcome of these elections. And the outcome comprise the person who will be leading us over the next six years (Point 1) and, more importantly, how qualified this leader is and how sound his ideas are (Point 2).
Engaging in debates is the highest expression of a candidate’s sincerity around his goal to reveal The Truth about his ability to lead the Republic of the Philippines as its President.
So here’s the thing, Mr Noted Blogger: to be an apologist for the leading presidentiables’ lack of inclination to participate in debates is the lowest expression of one’s sincerity in upholding one’s role as a thought leader in our society.