Instead of Debates, Candidates should be put on a witness stand

So the latest trending news on social media is about how Davao City Mayor and Presidential Candidate was allegedly disrespected by a student from UPLB during the Q & A portion of a forum he attended. As expected, supporters of Duterte used social media to not only defend their candidate, they used social media to exact revenge on the offending student. It even came to the point of putting up a page on Facebook hinting or wishing death on the UPLB student who not only asked a question to Duterte, he asked that Duterte answer direct to the point and in no uncertain terms.

To be honest, I agree with the UPLB student. Not just with the way Duterte should answer questions about his policies, programs, and the things he will do if he does become President, but all Presidential candidates, heck, all candidates running for public office should be made to answer questions direct to the point. No rhetoric. No drama. No jokes or other smart-ass play with words designed to elicit humor and attract more points in surveys or give birth to viral memes on the Internet.

Now the trend of asking questions towards Presidential candidates have also become a trend in the new Presidential debates being sanctioned by the COMELEC the so-called PiliPinas Debates 2016. The first of which was held in Capitol University, Cagayon de Oro City, down south in Mindanao last February 21, 2016. It was a largely successful debate, a fresh format compared to the debates of previous elections where candidates where given questions, some of which were on point and really tested their personality, understanding of the issues, and how it compared to what they or their campaign has said in the last few months of the election season.

However, it’s not enough. The questions need to be tougher. They need to really push the candidates into cutting the BS and really taking on the issues like poverty, corruption, land reform, national sovereignty and the peace process, economic progress, even moral issues the country is facing today. Simply put, I want a Presidential forum where the candidates are asked questions just like in a cross-examination in a courtroom. This idea has been explored in the critically-acclaimed HBO series, The Newsroom, where a primetime evening news program dared to introduce a new format for the Republican primaries where the candidates are asked questions as if they were on a witness stand. See the clip below to see what it is:

For everyone’s convenience, below is the dialogue in the scene:

Your plan was to embarrass the candidates.
I want candidates who can answer those questions.
And if they know they’re going to be held responsible for the nonsense they’re shouting on the stump, they’ll be forced to stop shouting nonsense.
– This guy has lost his mind.
– He hasn’t.
Adam, this is exactly what we always talked about.
This is what we dreamed of.
We said we need real campaign reform and a way of letting Americans hear the two best competing arguments.
Nobody could stand up to that kind of questioning.
– You think that was brutal questioning?
– It really wasn’t.
And you honestly believe the candidates would submit themselves to this?
– They should welcome it.
– I don’t believe what I’m hearing.
Any candidate who can handle a cross is gonna find himself at the top of the polls in the morning.
And we should welcome it ’cause it’ll clear out the clown car and give us a serious discussion among serious candidates.
The only person who would welcome it is him.
This is about him.
He wants to look tough by making the candidates look like idiots.
No, he doesn’t.
I have known this man for 25 years and I vouch I don’t care what you vouch for.
I am not allowing the goddamn press to make fools out of our candidates.
I’ll remember that the next time you bitch about how the press never vetted Obama.

And to see how this new format would actually look like, please see this clip on YouTube.

Just imagine, each Presidential candidate being asked the hard questions, the real questions that will filter out the BS and ferret out the truth from them, where they stand on issues, what do they plan on doing once they get into office, or how will they stand their ground once their own words are used against them.

It will brutal, it will be hard, but it will be of great service to us the voting Filipinos. Now the question is, do we have a Will McAvoy who can ask the hard questions, who can ask the questions we want the candidates to answer?

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