by JAM MAYER
Last April 30, as part of their Hot Seat electoral series, Bandila invited presidential candidate Senator Manny Villar to address some 3000 questions in 30 minutes.
Hosted by Ces Drilon and Henry Diaz, the interview format showcased the use of technology by gathering the questions beforehand through social media, primarily the Bandila Facebook page and Skype. It was evident that prior to the show, filtering was done towards multiple and similar questions. Senator Manny Villar was then given 30 seconds to respond to each question.
As expected, the first question focused on how Villlar intends to eradicate poverty in the country, asking for specific examples. He stated he would like to focus on agriculture since a big percentage of Filipinos are fishermen and farmers. If irrigation systems are to be repaired, this is a good start to helping them. He also stated that creating jobs and incentive programs, partnering with companies will be another avenue to help alleviate poverty.
Most of the questions asked dealt with the challenges in the campaign and how Sen. Villar was handling them. A major topic was the comparison to Senator NoyNoy Aquino and how their campaigns differ from the other. Whatever the question and however the campaign is being handled, his answer was always consistent — it’s a question of whether the candidate has the capacity to run a country.
Other questions talked about plans if Senator Villar wins or loses the presidential race. If he loses, he is ready to accept defeat and he will continue his advocacy to help the poor through a foundation and existing helplines will continue to be open. If he wins, he will prioritize bringing home the OFWs who want to come back to their homeland. Other issues will then be dealt with and emphasized that the first 100 days are critical to a president’s success.
Senator Villar was very composed during the interview. He showed humor when talking about his campaign strategies and resolve while discussing his plans for the first one hundred days if he is elected president. He addressed all the questions in a very calm and assured manner although the 30-second limit did not allow for too much elaboration which is probably why his answers were very general in nature. The only time he obfuscated was when asked about his actual net worth. True enough, his answers made sense, being an entrepreneur myself when he discussed and clarified the difference between what his net worth is versus the holding company that had shares in Vista Land.
The only answer that didn’t sit well with me would be about his mother’s interview. It seems that it was his mother who wanted to help and pushed for the interview to show her support for her son. I understand that mothers love unconditionally and I believe the tears are genuine, but it was a question of deciding to air the ad and what it will accomplish. In hindsight, he did say that people shouldn’t vote for him because of his mother or her tears, but because of his capacity to lead the country.
As the hosts of the show in a network that has declared itself for the opposition, Ces and Henry showed little to no bias towards their guest. Some of Ces’ comments might be interpreted as “leading the witness” or just controlling the conversation flow. Henry was engaging without being combative. All in all, it made good TV.