Why Marcos won the SMNI presidential debate – #BotongPinoy2022
Only four of the nine presidential candidates participated in the debate organized by the Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI) last February 16: former presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella, former national security adviser Norberto Gonzales, labor leader Leody de Guzman, and former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr.
As reported previously by The Filipino Scribe, the other candidates chose not to participate citing the legal troubles faced by religious leader Apollo Quiboloy – the founder and chairman of SMNI – as well as his open support for Marcos. It is for this reason that de Guzman described SMNI as Marcos’ “home court.”
It can be argued that Marcos is the “winner” of the said presidential debate, notwithstanding Quiboloy’s support for him. The most important thing that needs to be highlighted here is that according to latest surveys, he is ahead of his nearest competitor Vice President Leni Robredo by anywhere between 30 to 40 points.
Marcos is like a basketball team with a huge advantage, and his opponents need to seize every opportunity to peel off his support and not just trade baskets. Hence, the decision of his rivals to not participate in this debate played out to his advantage. Abella, de Guzman, and Gonzales all got substantial speaking time despite the fact that they are getting nowhere near Marcos’ ratings. Robredo could have gotten that free air time instead.
Appearing on this presidential debate will also allow Marcos’ camp to defuse the criticisms that he is a “coward” when it comes to engaging with his fellow candidates. In fact, it can even be said that he outshone his opponents because of his experience in public speaking and familiarity with issues as a former government official for three decades.
For example, while de Guzman is very passionate in his responses, he was halting and repetitive on fdar too many moments. Nevertheless, the fact that he had a national platform for his ideas was already a victory in itself. Former cabinet officials-turned-presidential candidates Abella and Gonzales gave insightful answers to some questions especially those concerning foreign affairs and national defense but they’re unremarkable elsewhere.
In short, Marcos won the debate not because he was particularly articulate but because his opponents did not show up and that his performance is not likely to make him lose support.