The Five-Minus-One Jessica Soho Presidential Interviews

by: Tiffany Glenne Afable || Photo Credit: PEP

On Saturday night, January 22, GMA aired the three-hour-long special Jessica Soho Presidential Interviews. With the invitation of the leading presidential candidates Vice President Leni Robredo, Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, Senator Manny Pacquiao, and a no-show Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., the show garnered a great deal of attention from all over the nation. 

In a statement, Atty. Victor D. Rodriguez — Marcos’ campaign chief of staff and spokesman — announced presidential aspirant Bongbong Marcos’ refusal of attendance in the Jessica Soho show, claiming that the award-winning veteran journalist and show hostess is “biased against the Marcoses” and would only focus on “negativity” when tasked with the responsibility of interviewing the candidate. Refuting this claim, GMA News then issued a response affirming Soho’s fairness and competency, saying, “The questions are tough because the job of the presidency is tough.” These events led to the spark of heated discussions online, particularly with the hashtag #MarcosDuwag

This, however, did not stop the show. The presidential bets in attendance were placed in “hot seats,” as they were expected to share their answers regarding their capabilities and a wide range of controversial issues that the public deserved to be enlightened about. One of the biggest challenges was the limited time to express their thoughts on the given topic. The candidates were expected to keep their responses brief and precise, all while navigating through the subject in a way that leaves no room for misinterpretations. 

While the interview was being aired, many people online both lauded and bashed the show for their bold questions that, throughout all of its segments, tackled topics such as the abolition of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG),  illegalization of political dynasties, legalization of divorce, and more.

Being the presidential candidate with the most controversies attached to their name, numerous Filipinos were left wondering what former Sen. Marcos had to say about the matters discussed. However, most of his supporters remain unmoved by his absence. They justified his nonappearance by claiming that having to prove he is the best would be an “insult.”

Aside from the racket that surrounded  Marcos’ lack of attendance, people have also expressed their disappointment at the exclusion of “Labor Leader” Leodegario “Ka Leody” de Guzman, as it could have been a chance for someone from the working class to present their platforms on a national level — a breath of fresh air among all the repeatedly established objectives that are never again pursued upon election. Although he was not invited, Ka Leody went on Facebook live to share his plans and opinions, which many people commended for his dedication. 

The Jessica Soho Presidential Interviews Show was — despite the claims — an undeniably good chance for Filipinos to compare the leading presidentiables and reassess their candidate of choice in the upcoming elections. It is a shame that some people think it is below a presidential aspirant to grant the public an opportunity to evaluate them and their platforms. 

In light of the recent events, it is crucial not to lose sight of what the Philippine elections are for. It is never for a political party, but it is always for the Filipino people and their future. As the elections are nearing, it is your responsibility, as a voter,  to assess the candidates and see who truly stands for you. Do not let your pride create your choice, for it would only be regret that would shine your trophy when we are spiraled into another term of incompetence or, heaven forbid, something worse.

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