Opinions

Was Miriam Santiago subtly giving Mar Roxas a chance to steal the votes?

Miriam Santiago and Mar Roxas

One of the highlights of ABS-CBN’s presidential debate on April 24 was the exchange between Senator Miriam Santiago and Mar Roxas on the criteria of what makes a good president of the Philippines and how these points should manifest in a candidate.

Miriam Santiago and Mar Roxas

Her question made it clear to all what standards the respected senator held up for the would be president of the Philippines:

“I believe that there are three requirements for a good president of the Philippines. Number 1: academic excellence. Number 2: professional excellence and number 3: moral excellence. Can you give me at least three examples of this?”

Many marvelled at Roxas’ replies as it gave him an opportunity to sum up the plus points of his 20-something career:

“My academic record is quite clear. I did graduate from the Wharton school of business: one of the best business schools in the entire United States …My diploma is up on the wall for anyone who wishes to see. With respect to professional excellence …we have defended treaties, the JAPEPA being one of them. I have been both an interpolator to yourself as well as you have interpolated me and I think you would be the best judge as to my capability in understanding the issues as particularly complex as it may be. And lastly, moral integrity. I think that my record 23 years in public life, not once having been connected to any kind of anomaly, speaks for itself. Walang mantsa, walang bahid na paninilbihan sa mahigit na 20 taon na pagsisilbi. The most important word that a public servant has is to say NO. No to temptation, no to offers, and no to even the seeming inappropriateness to certain acts.”

Santiago also gave Roxas an opportunity to give an answer to his “elitist” background, which had previously been used by his critics as a source of his weakness. To which Roxas replied:

“As Batman said: It is not important how you came into this world; what is important is what you did with your life. And my life over the last 20 years has been a public record. You have been witness to many elements of my life as we work together in the senate fighting for cheaper medicines, fighting the banks and the insurance companies for pre-need protection for our people. Fighting for economic opportunity through the JPEPA and other economic treatise. Fighting for what is good and what is right. My records stand for itself. It is not a question of how I came into this world. It is what I did with my life and how I dedicated my life to help my countrymen. “

 Watch the video below:


Video courtesy of ABS-CBN News

Roxas answers did not fall on deaf ears and managed to raise praises from netizens who managed to catch the portion of that debate. News anchor and TV personality Teddy Locsin was generous with his praise:

Nevertheless, the real clincher was that many felt that Santiago, who had lagged from the polls due to her ill health, was subtly and shrewdly endorsing Mar through her line of questioning. This despite public perception that she had political ties with Duterte. A few even thought that Santiago’s handling of the question and answer with Roxas was “almost like a direct endorsement.”

miriam santiago and mar roxas comments

miriam santiago and mar roxas comments

 Nevertheless, rabid Santiago supporters stuck to their guns, while Locsin reserved his highest praise for Santiago for the night:

miriam santiago and mar roxas comments

Could Santiago have been subtly endorsing Roxas, while carefully avoiding offense towards her political allies, namely Duterte? With the senator’s health not appearing as stable as she would like it to be and her current standing in the polls, this might well have been a distinct possibility.

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