Three faced questioning, one ran away


As business organizations go in this country, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce (PCCI) is truly nationwide and inclusive. It has chapters all over the country. And it convenes the Philippine Business Conference (PBC) annually to discuss vital issues and problems affecting business and the economy.

The PCCI is totally different from the Makati Business Club (MBC), which is elite and exclusive, and exhibits a whiff of pretense to being the crème de la crème of our business community. MBC is confined, as its name suggests, to its citadel in Makati City.

The PCCI is also unlike the Federation of Filipino-Chinese chambers of commerce (FCCI), which is organized along ethnic lines — the Chinese kind – and is also nationwide and quite proactive.

I make these prefatory observations as a way of highlighting the significance the annual PBC of the PCCI. When the conference and the chamber organize a forum for the four active and accredited presidential candidates in the 2016 elections, it is a given that a serious candidate should take part. Any attempt to avoid the forum or dodge its questioning will become a story in itself and an issue to deal with.

Snapshots of policy agendas
At the PBC forum for presidential candidates last Tuesday, Vice President Jejomar Binay, Sen, Miriam Defensor Santiago and former Interior secretary Manuel Roxas II all confirmed their appearance and showed up.

Grace Poe confirmed her appearance at first, but then backed out, and then went to the forum late to deliver her brief statement. After posing for pictures, she declined to take questions unlike the other candidates who fielded important questions about their respective policy ideas and agendas.

Conference delegates and the media were treated to a snapshot of the policy agendas of each candidate, as each discussed their pet themes and priorities.

The initial format for the forum was to have the presidential candidates face each other in front of the business group, but the vice president requested that the candidates be asked to separately state their platforms and then answer questions from the moderator one by one.

The suggested change in format was agreed to by Roxas and Santiago.

They heard Jojo Binay discuss his strategy for poverty reduction and jobs-creation.

Binay said the target of his administration if elected would be to focus on poverty reduction by providing more jobs. He said this will be possible through supporting industries that are labor-intensive such as manufacturing and export.

They listened intently to Senator Miriam’s discussion of the importance of political stability and infrastructrue modernization to bring the country at par with all of Asean.

Santiago declared that she would support the passing of “a law authorizing the use of public funds to support dominant political parties” to create a stable political institution in the country.

She said such a program would push political parties to be accountable for the mistakes of their own candidates and leaders who will be in government positions.

Santiago also emphasized in her speech that the country needs to prepare its people by improving health and education services to ensure faster economic growth and to trickle down the effect of this. Her program would include the continuation of the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) Program but in a more cost-efficient way.

Roxas, for his part, vowed to sustain the country’s economic momentum and reclaim its position as a center of modernity and growth in Asia by continuing the initiatives of the Aquino administration on transparency, rules-based governance, and fighting corruption.

He said the country now has many reasons to push for “continuity” of government programs and initiatives.

When her turn came, Senator Poe vowed to increase tourist arrivals as the focus of her platform of government.

Poe emphasized the importance of the tourism industry in the country which she said would be enhanced by improving public infrastructure.

Each candidate provided an interesting spin to their programs. And each was superficial and dull in their own way.

Tax reform a priority for most
All four presidentiables spoke at some point about the need for tax reforms, particularly in lowering the corporate income tax (CIT) and personal income tax (PIT) rates.

Santiago vowed to reform the tax system within six months of her administration. Binay said he will reduce the CIT rate gradually. Poe is more concerned about the reduction of individual tax rates.

Roxas said he is open to reducing income tax rates but the initiative needs to be studied “very closely” and should be put in “very sober and non-populist” discussions — not during election time.

It looks like Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima will keep his job in a Roxas administration.

Grace Poe’s grand entrance and hasty exit
For being late and coming in the afternoon instead, independent presidential bet Sen. Grace Poe got herself a grand entrance.

Organizers almost gave up on Poe attending the forum. Poe’s office issued a last-minute advisory saying that Poe had a prior commitment, but later on indicated that Poe would head to the PBC after all, after cutting short her earlier engagement.

Poe’s “grand entrance” did not sit well with many of the business executives attending the PBC as they concluded that she was merely avoiding tough questions regarding her qualifications as president.

Although Poe delivered her prepared statement, she declined the lengthy question-and-answer portion to which her three rivals were subjected. She settled for photo shots or “selfies” with members of the audience.

Poverty is the moral issue — Binay    
Binay put some urgency to his presentation when he critiqued the six years of the Aquino administration, and declared that poverty is the real moral issue that must be addressed head-on.

He contended that restrictive economic policies and political intervention in the six years of President Aquino have resulted in squandered economic opportunities.

Among the economies of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), Binay said, the Philippines had the lowest inflow of foreign investments because the country was not equipped to receive such investments. “Our economic policies remain restrictive, discouraging start-ups, and the tax system is punitive for business,” he said.

In his statement at the forum, Binay also said poverty and not corruption is the “moral problem” of the country, and vowed to address the problem under his presidency.

This will invite the riposte that, for personal reasons, he wants to play down the corruption issue and play up the poverty card instead.

A forum, like a debate, is not a picnic. You get what you put in.

If you hide, you will be found.


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  1. Whoever you elect some will complain. You can find fault with any candidate. Just look at how columinists in the MT have slated this president, continuously, yet its only under this administration that corrupt officials from every, call it department or whatever, but its the chief justice to sitting congressmen. Isnt that whats needed first. Get corrupt people out of positions of power, get them in jail. Then get honest people in power & im sure slowly but surely they will build a stronger better country. I personally dont see much wrong with roxas or santiago. Binay well i think he is one of the most corrupt & should be in jail. Lets see how things start panning out but we also need justice speeded up greatly. Dont let the corrupt rich & powerful use their money or power to delay proceedings, let them face justice.

  2. Honest Traffic Enforcer on

    Wow, i was all for Poe in the beginning, but after reading this, tsk tsk, I don’t think I like her anymore. She should have been in this forum yelling to high heavens why she should be the next president of the Philippines. Instead, she came late, said a few words to minimize damage, some selfies, then split!

    Pahiya ako dun ah. I’ve always loved Ms Santiago for her guts. Let’s go, Miriam! Six years of Miriam is what this country needs!

  3. victor m. hernandez on

    Based on this format of a debate, I think the debate was won by Mar Roxas, but tied with Miriam Defensor Santiago. Jojo Binay was short of my expectation; and Grace Poe should be relegated to uninspiring, and never-mind.

  4. Gentlemen,

    how can we elect or vote politician that he/she doesnt know his/her job??? its a

    suicide for all of us filipino..Wake up gentlemen…

    dont vote idiot and stupid people…who doesnt know nothing…

  5. If Miriam can stay healthy then she should be the next President. Otherwise, just cancel the damn elections and reformat our system of government and fix our institutions. It would be better to run the country under a competent transitional body in the meantime.

  6. If Grace Poe wins she will concentrate on the influx of tourists in the country. And that includes her family to be tourist in this country forever.

  7. Grace Llamanzares ignorance of governance is clearly exhibited in her attempt to evade the most crucial part of the discussion by being surreptitiously absent, and only to arrive near the end of business meeting, even to deny the audience of any of the lengthy question and answer, which may prove that she has those 20 points program she announced earlier in her sort of campaign all planned out, her denying of this critical portion is a clear indication that she did not craft the program at all, because it finally was whittled down into just one plain ordinary program of increasing the number of tourist.

    And, to those who continue to support Llamanzares with obtuse reasons of her late attendance, about being busy and all, the only rebuttal that can be laid out to clarify her inexcusable tardiness, is to see the three other aspiring presidential candidates, and on what responsibilities they hold, one is a vice-president, the other holds a portfolio of being a department secretary, while the other one is a senator who is her colleague.

    Llamanzares excuse for being late due to other commitment is peppered with lies, and it is understandable as to why the businessmen who invited all the aspiring presidential candidated are dismayed at her tardiness, it is because in the business world, time is of the essence. Having been informed and have accepted an invitation, should mean that the person who responds must be professional to allot post-haste the designated time for such appointment.

    Being late for an appointment is considered rude and a snub towards the host, Llamanzares may be banking on the false survey that shows her to be favored to win the presidency, and thus she placed great importance upon herself to be given the honor to deny any matter that does not please her biddings – this is a trait that is not fit for a president, Philippines has one presently, Filipinos need not prolong the same agony in the next six years.

  8. The next time she’s invited to participate in another debate among presidential candidates, she’ll call in sick.

  9. Hey come on guys let’s cut the crap! It’s election time again and these politicians will say anything just to make them look real pretty good. Point is the chance of one of one percent finally making it to fruition is nil as a snow ball in hell. Let’s not pin our hope on these charlatans, ever!

  10. Mar ‘ paralysis by analysis’ Roxas

    1. The Person
    Mar roxas is weak, indecisive, devoid of strategic/original thought, a technocrat, an elitist, lacks empathy, and a credit grabber.
    Not a team builder or leader.
    A passenger, not a driver.
    An analyst of details, not a catalyst of change
    Particularly weak on foreign affairs, and social re-engineering.

    2. The Policies/Platform
    Mar Roxas has said he would continue current policies, which have only resulted in greater income inequality, and no reduction in poverty. Even doing business has become harder. And no surprise that the vast majority do not trust the government.
    A vote for Mar Roxas would be a vote for a Pnoy Aquino clone.

    Mar Roxas has already stated he is not in favor of/has concerns with:
    Changing 60/40 economic provision
    Joining TPP
    Tax reform
    (All of which are critical to strategic development and fundamental to future progress/prosperity)

    He has no personal vision/strategies, but is simply saying that he will give the country more of the same! Mar ‘jump on a bandwagon’ Roxas is soon exposed as some-one without depth, and not his own man. Another campaign of brand marketing/propaganda beckons.

    3 The impact
    A Mar Roxas presidency would be 6 more years of ‘trickle down’ economics, ( which even the IMF has discredited), a lack of innovation, and more patronage politics resulting in:
    Economic suicide and societal hari-kari
    Greater inequality
    Increased wealth gap
    No reduction in poverty
    Higher under/unemployment
    Brain drain
    Static wages (reduction in real terms)
    Continued dependence upon imports
    No significant investment in agricultural sector
    No fiscal stimulation
    ‘Jobs for the boys’
    Continuation of ‘PDAF/DAP/Pork barrel’
    Pnoy aquino has a get out of jail card
    Divided society – social unrest
    Weakened democratic institutions
    Erosion of personal privacy
    Control of elections
    2nd tier in ASEAN
    Corporate profiteering
    Consolidation of oligarch hold on economy

    4 The conclusion
    The best outcome for the philippines in next years elections is that the winner is….Bernie Sanders!

    The worst is that Mar ‘Mr pnoy clone’ Roxas, Abad, Abaya are able to continue to loot, pillage, and rape the Philippines for the benefit of corporations, the US, and themselves.

    Economists are clear – a change is overdue, but Mar ‘Mr Indecisive’ Roxas does not have the answers, and is not the answer.

    The question is, who is the answer.

    • then who do you suggest to be the next president? corrupt binay, sick meriam or a lapdog grace?

    • I have listened to Mar Roxas and what you are saying is a direct reversal of what I have heard. YEither I do no know how to listen or somebody is not telling the truth.

    • In short, Mar is not leader quality. If left with the last 3, Binay would be the better candidate. At the very least, he had experience in running a city. Corruption is inherent in all politicians or how else will they be able to recoup their campaign cost? At least we know what kind of person he is (huwag lang masyadong garapal) better than those who pretends to be honest and clean but is actually dirtier and a bigger hypocrite than those they are attacking.

  11. Leodegardo Pruna on

    Seems that the VP got his points much better than the rest. I do differ however with his stance that poverty and not corruption is the real problem of the country. I believe that both poverty and corruption should be dealt with equal passion. Corruption will erase whatever means are used to reduce poverty. Corruption breeds the greedy and so will eat on whatever means are taken to reduce poverty. God bless the Philippines.

    • Binay made it clear.
      He will eradicate poverty through corruption.
      he has made the point that he is an expert on this.

  12. Bert Hernandez on

    Political dynasty, corruption , poverty , are the main problems of the country. Presidential candidates should address this important issues. Off course Binay is not interested to discuss the corruption issue because he is investigated for this act. Voters should not vote for corrupt candidates.

  13. For those who do not know the real FPJ as an actor, try to watch some of FPJ movies since he became an actor you will never see him barefooted. When FPJ appeared in a starring role in Alupihan Dagat he acted as a fishermen and the guy was wearing a boots while riding a fishing boat. When he played as a Moro in Zamboanga movie again FPJ was wearing a boots too. For these reason none of his movies won Best Costume because of his stubbornness to be barefooted. Even in movies were plays as jail inmate he always see to it that he wearing a shoe. He will never wear slippers because he does not his fans to see his feet. Even his fans were decieved of realities of Filipino way of life. And this what Grace Poe wanted to continue decieved us.

  14. Grace Poe never had any experience any debate with anybody in the Senate plenary during her short stint as a senator. It was political manuever when she came in late to avoid a debate in the floor. I wish she would elaborate what FPJ have accomplished for country except for his heavy drinking of San Miguel beer. FPJ did not even gave his employees separation pays when they retrench in his FPJ production company during the 80’s.

  15. I think we should respect Senator Poe’s busy schedule. it would be rude to ditch the other event first. What’s important is that she tried her best to be there. I am more interested in the presidential debates.

    • That is non-sense. Every candidate for the highest post in the land knew what he/she has to go through and the sacrifices that must be undertaken. I’m sure all the other candidates are also busy but they took time out of their busy schedule to prioritize the said event. Being late and avoiding major questions from the media reflects poorly on GP’s reputation. I think she didn’t try her best to be there.

  16. What would you expect from a neophyte like Grace Poe. Just like her adopted father, FPJ avoided debates and interviews by the media. That’s why nobody knew his platform except that the people remember him as a famous actor.