The second debate featuring the candidates running for president this year happened yesterday. It was hosted by TV5 in partnership with the Philippine Star and Rappler and was held at the University of the Philippines – Cebu.
All candidates were present except Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, who begged off because she is still undergoing cancer treatment. The debate was scheduled to start by 5:00 PM, but something inexplicable happened that forced it to be delayed by 90 minutes.
At first, a rumor circulated in social media claiming that Senator Grace Poe arrived late for the debate. Apparently in response to mounting criticisms from Filipino netizens, TV5 news anchor Cheryl Cosim had to say on-air that the problem is not with the network but with one of the candidates.
Here’s what happened: the camp of Vice President Jejomar Binay asked TV5 news and public affairs head Luchi Cruz-Valdez if he can have notes and documents with him during the debate. Cruz-Valdez, who was also the debate moderator, said yes. The camp of Liberal Party standard-bearer Mar Roxas vigorously protested the set-up. The entire brouhaha caused the 90-minute delay.
But that arguably is not her only mistake tonight. In the first half of the debate, she is noticeably very inefficient as a moderator. For example, she allowed Binay and Poe to talk over each other and go beyond their allotted time when they traded barbs in the opening round. To be fair, she became a lot more active in implementing time limits and in keeping the discussion on-topic in the latter part of the debate.
Despite her shortcomings, Cruz-Valdez’ nevertheless earned praise from netizens for performing a difficult job. To remind everyone, it was initially announced that Erwin Tulfo will be a co-moderator alongside her, so what happened?
Yung ginawa ni Luchi Curz-Valdez kanina sa debate, yan ang eksena ng mga teacher sa classroom araw-araw. LOL#PiliPinasDebates2016
— Mister Mark (@FilipinoScribe) March 20, 2016