Disturbing evasion of Presidential debates


by Ali G. Macabalang

Alhamdulillah! I am resuming active media work after a rest for health concerns.

Though my fluctuating internet signal continues to saddle my work, my weeks of rest enabled me to monitor national and global events. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine topped noticeable foreign stories, while events related to the May 9, 2022 elections continued to grab the attention of majority Filipinos.

Before delving into one surprising political issue, particularly in the Presidential race, I take pride to herald President Rody Duterte’s recent appointment of 15 fellow Muslim (Maranao) professionals in various public offices. This came also as another phenomenal event, courtesy of the President’s giving credence to his acknowledged Maranao blood.

The 15 appointees are:

  1. Atty. Saidamen Balt Pangarungan – COMELEC Chairman;
  2. Atty. Dabs Mama-o – Secretary of the Department of Migrant Workers;
  3. Atty. Gene Mamondiong – Secretary of NCMF;
  4. Dra. April Mindalano-Lao – Commissioner, NCMF;
  5. Atty. Basari Mapupuno – MSU System President;
  6. Atty. Maylene Macumbal – RTC Judge, Iligan City;
  7. Atty. Samina Macabando – RTC Judge, Marawi City;
  8. Atty. Jamel Mamutuk – RTC Judge, Gingoog;
  9. Atty. Abdinsa Sultan – Provincial Prosecutor, Maguindanao;
  10. Atty. Rainnie G. Macud – Associate City Prosecutor, Marawi City;
  11. Atty: Hafza Lamping – Associate Provincial Prosecutor, Lanao del Sur;
  12. Dra. Salma Lao Manalocon – Regional Director, DSWD;
  13. Atty. Faizal Padate – Regional Director, DSWD;
  14. Atty. Raisah Pamaloy – Regional Director, DSWD; and
  15. Jamil P. Amatonding, Jr. – Regional Director, DAR.

I had criticized some policies of the President, notably in the handling of the 2017 incursion of ISIS-allied militants in Marawi. I disliked his order for the military to pulverize the entire city with bombs and mortar shots, instead of letting government snipers to engage the combined Dawlah Islamia (Maute) and Abu Sayyaf men and sparing the city from mass devastation.

And in the execution of his order for the rehabilitation of the city and recovery of displaced residents, the Task Force Bangon Marawi miserably fails in executing efficient efforts. Rational minds were fed up with TFMB’s own unrealized timeliners. Besides, there were suspicions that graft and corrupt acts happened in the city’s rehabilitation efforts.


My pessimistic view of the Duterte regime on specific concerns subsided in his mass appointment of the 15 above-named personalities. Some of them are known to me or are my friends.

Salamat po, Pangulong Digong. I salute the appointees, too. I wish them the best to perform well in their offices.

One wish  

There is one wish I would like the President to make before his term ends. In one of his brief yet intriguing remarks, he mentioned a Presidential aspirant he described as “son of a popular leader” using cocaine. Many people perceived the remarks as referring to candidate Bongbong Marcos.

Mr. Duterte’s revelation will be fair if, before the 2022 election campaign ends, he will name the candidate. This will save the Filipinos from electing an illegal drug user, an offense the Duterte administration must address.  

Disturbing evasion of public debates

Four Presidential debates or dialogs sponsored by journalist Jessica Soho, the Kapisanang ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas (KBP), the CNN-Philippines, and the SMNI media network. Candidate Bongbong did not join the first three events, attending only the SMNI-staged debate because the network is owned by Pastor Quiboloy, who has publicly endorsed the Bongbong-Sara tandem.

The BBM’s camp explained lately that his option to evade public debate was because of the biases of some media personalities. The alibi is very shallow.

As I look at it, the reason behind was Bongbong’s fear about being asked candidly if he had used cocaine. Another is about public desire for him to explain why he did not file his income tax returns for three or four years when he was an elected official of Ilocos Norte.

Solving PH ills in unity

While evading debates, Bongbong has anchored his campaign calls on forging unity as a solution to our country’s ills. I find the unity slogan not fitting a public personality haunted by questions on moral turpitude.

In a recent video clip posted in social media channels, the late President Ferdinand Marcos, Bongbong’s father, had mentioned propriety in advocating unity.

“How would you call for unity when your neighbour is a tax evader,” the video clip, which I suspect to be a fabrication, said something like it. (Comments and reactions may be sent to alimac.bulletin@gmail.com.)

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