ONLY three of the five topics lined up by the Commission and Elections (Comelec) were discussed by candidates during the second presidential debate held Sunday in Cebu City because the participants resorted to personal attacks.
The Comelec and its media partners agreed to limit the topics to health, education, disaster preparedness, climate change and corruption in order to determine the grasp of each candidate on these issues. However, only the issues on corruption, climate change and disaster preparedness were discussed but not thoroughly.
Sen. Grace Poe noted that corruption remains one of the country’s biggest problems, hindering the fight against poverty.
Poe said that among the first things that she will do if she is elected president is sign a commitment that no member of her family will be involved or have transactions or contract in government.
As for her political allies and supporters, Poe said that they will not be spared if proven to be corrupt.
“Until now corruption is still rampant, corrupt officials are still on their posts, they should be jailed,” she added.
Poe cited the need to pass the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill because it can help address corruption in government.
A country ridden in graft and corruption will always have citizens mired in poverty, she said.
Poe, during the debate, traded barbs with Vice President Jejomar Binay, who is facing criminal charges at the Sandiganbayan.
Citing a report of the Commission on Audit, Poe said an average of P100 billion is lost annually because of graft.
As for climate change and disaster preparedness, Poe said the country needs to have a leader with a good management style who can effectively remove millions of residents living along high-risk areas.
Aside from planting drought-resistant crops, the country needs to have water entrapment facilities and flood control projects to ensure the safety of people living in flood prone areas, the senator added.
Candidates were not able to discuss important issues on education and health but tackled peace and order, wherein Poe said that she will appoint Marine Col. Ariel Querubin as crime czar to lead the government’s fight against drugs and crime.
Poe is also one of two presidential aspirants open to the reimposition of the death penalty.
”There are crimes like heinous, drugs and multiple crimes where involved people can no longer be rehabilitated. If through death penalty, we can create fears, though it’s against my will, we have to do it,” Poe said in an interview after the debate.
The senator however admitted that Congress should first reform the justice system before reviving death penalty.