#NoFilter: Was the presidential debate really a 'debate'?

ABS-CBN News

Was it a debate or not?

Two political analysts share their views on why presidential candidates seemed to stay on the safe side during the initial round of the presidential debates held Sunday.

Speaking on ANC's #NoFilter, Professor Popoy De Vera said the structure of the program made it difficult for candidates to actually debate with each other.

"The structure and the way the whole thing went makes it very difficult for the candidates to debate. You've got only a minute and a half to debate, you're paired with each other, you're trying to be nice, and testing whether the Filipinos will get angry at you if you suddenly lambast your opponents," he said.

Teddy Locsin Jr., meanwhile, said Senator Grace Poe's background as a debater in school gave her an advantage, and all the candidates were still adjusting to the show's format.

"That's why Grace came off so well because she's a debater in school, she always was. Formally, she knows that you have to prepare, you have to condense your points. Don't let a single second pass where there's silence, okay, fine," he said.

For Locsin, the other candidates may have avoided losing their cool on television, which is why there was no actual debate held.

"I don't fault it either that they don't insult each other, because I was told that I had such a bad temper when I was in Cory's government and I would be interviewed and kind of insult people, and I would do that also on TV. They said you look absolutely crazy. TV now is a cool medium. You always have to be cool, never get angry. Always be deliberate," he said.

"They say Asian culture is not confrontational, and voters might not like a candidate, particularly a male candidate, looking down condescendingly on a female candidate and telling them off... You wouldn't want to be seen as the bully threatening a fellow candidate," De Vera added.