Senator Richard Gordon yesterday challenged presidential wannabes to start public debates among themselves even if the next election would still be held two-and- a-half years from now.
Debates will enhance the chances of candidates with limited resources to present an alternative platform of government, Gordon said.
Gordon, who said he is available for the presidential race, did not name names but only recently, Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay floated his plan to join the 2010 presidential derby.
Chairman Bayani Fernando of the Metro Manila Development Authority also dropped hints of his political plans but said his party, Lakas, has the final word on its standard-bearer.
Gordon said the Philippines should take a cue from the practice in the United States where the Republican and Democratic parties start early the process of selecting their prospective standard-bearers as what is happening now.
“In my view, it is in the best interest of the people for presidential aspirants to come out and engage in debates among themselves like what they are doing in the US,” he told an interview with newsmen.
Unless the presidential debates are held—and as early as possible, Gordon said the surveys will again influence the judgment of the people which, he said, is favorable to well-funded candidates but unfair to people like him who could not match the resources of the former.
He said that in previous presidential elections, the candidates had the tendency to shy away from debates especially if they were super-rich or very popular figures from show business.
Gordon said it is through public debates that the people will really know who are capable of providing leadership and solving the multifarious ills of the country.
Gordon has no qualms in presenting himself as a presidential aspirant, saying he dreamt of being catapulated to Malacañang as early as 1992.
“I am available, but I haven’t made any announcement yet,” he said.
“I think my options are open. At present, I am working as a senator but I am available for the presidency because like what other people have said, I should have run in 1992 or in 1998. But I didn’t have enough resources or experience at that time.”
“I think having been a mayor [of Olongapo City], having been a Constitutional Convention delegate, having been chairman of the Subic Bay Authority, having been a secretary of tourism promoting our country, having been governor of the Philippine National Red Cross helping our people in all major disasters in the country, I think I have now enough experience.”
Gordon admitted that it would give him tremendous advantage if he will be chosen as the standard-bearer of the ruling Lakas party or the administration coalition.
“I am always referred to as an administration senator. But I don’t always vote for the administration. I have been critical of the pardon for [former President] Erap [Estrada]. And I’m not with Erap either.”
Lakas sounding board
Fernando said the ruling coalition, Lakas Christian-Muslim Democrat is announcing possible standard-bearers for the presidential polls to know the sentiments of the electorate this early.
“The party is deliberately floating names so we would know who the people would support. It would also come up with a survey,” he said.
He said the track record of a leader is a factor being considered to become a presidential standard-bearer than one’s popularity.
MMDA general manager Robert Nacianceno said Fernando is qualified to run for the “highest post in the executive branch.”
“In the bureaucracy, who could be a good president, but one who has the political will, managerial capacity and the executive experience. He must know how the government works and how to manage the budget,” Nacianceno said. Fel V. Maragay and Rio N. Araja