Broadcast journalist Karen Davila’s interview with Parañaque City councilor Alma Moreno last Wednesday for her cable show Headstart gained much attention in social media over the weekend. The 2016 senatorial candidate received flak from netizens for what they perceived as her weak answers to Davila’s questions. The 23-minute interview can be watched below.
The interview began on a good note, with Moreno (Vanessa Moreno Lacsamana in real life) relating to Davila how she ended up being included in the senatorial slate of United Nationalist Alliance. The party’s standard bearer for next year is Vice President Jejomar Binay.
And then, Davila asked Moreno why she thinks she is qualified to be a senator. The former actress cited her nine years of experience as city councilor and as president of the Philippine Councilors League since 2012 as proof of her readiness for legislative work. She also pointed out that she was first lady of Parañaque from 1995 to 2004 during her marriage to then-Mayor Joey Marquez, who’s also from showbiz.
Davila then asked Moreno if being a former showbiz personality makes it difficult for her to connect to the public. “It’s hard for celebrities to be taken seriously by the public at least in the beginning,” the journalist said, pointing out that it will be tough to match the success of other celebrity-turned-politicians like former President Joseph Estrada, Senator Bong Revilla, and Batangas Governor Vilma Santos.
The former actress said no, since according to her, most people she meets at the grassroots level around the country already acknowledge her as a veteran councilor from Parañaque. From then, the interview went downhill for Moreno.
When Davila asked what advocacies she will push if she elected to the Senate, Moreno said she will propose bills for women. When asked for specifics, the councilor mentioned the need for a magna carta for women and tougher laws addressing rape – perhaps unaware that such laws are already in place.
Davila then pivoted to the reproductive health (RH) law, which is perhaps the most significant legislation for women passed in this generation. Moreno said she supports it but with reservations. When asked what her concerns are, Moreno responded, “Kailangan pa bang sagutin yan?” – pretty much looking like a student who was caught unprepared by the teacher during an oral exam.
Davila continued to press Moreno on the issue, to the point where she noticeably switched to Filipino to probably explain her question better. The councilor seems to be unsure if she is for or against RH bill, although she acknowledged that poor families having many children is really a problem.
“Dapat laging bukas ang ilaw!” she awkwardly said when asked how she thinks overpopulation can be addressed. “Ikaw ha, pinapahirapan mo ako!” she said jokingly to Davila. A transcript of their back-and-forth has been posted on the Facebook page of Senyora Santibañez.
- For candidates – When you’re running for public office, especially at the national level, it is important to really familiarize yourself with relevant issues. Or at least, have a pet issue where you can be very knowledgeable about. You cannot apply for a job with no clear idea what you will do once you get it. And also, never ever face the media unprepared.
- For media persons – Karen Davila deserves credit for her persistent questioning of Moreno. Fact-checking journalism is now becoming the trend worldwide and media persons need to be assertive in demanding answers. Another plus point for Davila is the fact that she was able to accomplish this without being badgering or confrontational. Here’s hoping that her style will be replicated elsewhere.
- For voters – It’s time to really set a high-standard in choosing our leaders. We cannot keep on electing people who twist themselves like pretzels when asked about where they stand on issues affecting their constituents.