“Messy” format and connectivity issues were among the concerns viewers had during the presidential forum by the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) held on Feb. 4.
In the forum titled “Para sa Bayan,” moderated by Karen Davila and CNN Philippines’ Rico Hizon, five presidential candidates participated remotely via Zoom.
Vice President Leni Robredo, Senators Panfilo “Ping” Lacson and Manny Pacquiao, Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso, and labor leader Leody de Guzman presented their platform during the forum, which was broadcasted to over 300 TV and radio stations nationwide and streamed online.
In one of the forum’s segments, members of an all-male panel—Bombo Radyo’s Elmar Acol, One News’ Roby Alampay, Far East Broadcasting Company’s Dan Andrew Cura and TV5’s Ed Lingao—were given 30 seconds to ask a candidate a question, while the candidates each have one minute to answer.
The moderators reminded the panelists and the candidates to keep their questions and answers “short, sweet and direct.”
With the limited amount of time, the candidates had to answer quick and briefly. There were also instances when candidates barely had time to expound their statements.
“Such a weird format for the KBP forum. Why have more than 1 question in 1 minute if the clock continues while the panelists ask their questions? Makes no sense,” said a Twitter user.
Panelists were allowed to ask follow-up questions if there was still time left. But netizens pointed out that the timer does not stop when panelists ask follow-up questions, leaving the candidates no time to respond.
“I was expecting a good setup for the #KBPForum today. It's frustrating to listen while the timer is on whenever the member of the panels ask for follow-up questions. Also, why allot 1min. per presidential candidate when the members of the panel consume most of the time?” another netizen tweeted.
In two “Town Hall” segments where KBP members from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao asked the candidates regional concerns, a maximum of one minute was given for candidates to respond.
There were some who think the said format, which some described as "messy," would have worked well if the candidates and the panelists are all in the same room. While others said it’s important that the candidates be given longer time to respond so the viewers will be able to learn more and evaluate better the candidates running for the highest position in the country.
Others liked that the format was streamlined and questions were straightforward, but still went back to criticizing the time constraints.
Looking beyond the time limit issue, political analyst Jean Franco said in an interview with CNN Philippines: “Maganda ang format dahil may regional perspective. Napaalam nila sa kandidato ang problema sa rehiyon nila.”
As the presidential bets participated in the three-hour forum remotely, connectivity issues posed as a challenge, especially for Robredo, who was not able to participate in most parts of the first question-and-answer segment due to an unstable internet connection.
According to Robredo’s social media post before the forum, she and her team were supposed to fly to Typhoon Odette-affected areas that morning but decided to make time for the forum first.
“Nanghiram kami ng opisina malapit sa airport kung saan puwede kami maki-Zoom para maka-attend ng KBP Presidential Candidates Forum,” she wrote in the caption of her post.
Connectivity issue was already evident at the onset of Robredo’s presentation. During the first round robin of the Q&A segment, Robredo was skipped due to unstable connection but was given a chance to answer toward the end.
There was a moment when Robredo was seen holding a handset, which she explained later in a tweet, “Sa hina ng internet, sa landline ko pinapakinggan yung audio.”
I apologize for the bad connectivity during the forum. The fault is all mine. pic.twitter.com/4ivoXZ2Bnv— Leni Robredo (@lenirobredo) February 4, 2022
Robredo’s spokesperson Barry Gutierrez acknowledged the challenges the vice president experienced during the forum.
“I feel your pain, guys. We all want to see VP Leni at her best and internet issues get in the way of that. That she was in a borrowed office is no excuse, and if you need someone to blame, blame me. That hate will be motivation to make sure this won’t happen again,” he tweeted.
Meanwhile, Robredo apologized for the bad connectivity she experienced during the forum and said “the fault is all mine.”
“Our team tried hard to convince me to cancel all other engagements, pero pinilit ko pa din hanapan ng paraan to fulfill all our commitments, dahil alam kong naghihintay yung communities na pupuntahan namin, para maihatid yung tulong na pabahay bago mag-start ang campaign period,” she tweeted.
Watch the KBP's "Para sa Bayan" presidential forum below: