13 April 2007

Two quick notes on the CCCom briefer

THAT RATHER staid preliminary meeting called by the Caceres Commission on Communications (CCCom) at the Basilica yesterday afternoon spun a number of interesting sub-plots that would make for good storylines.

As a backgrounder, the CCCom has been conducting a series of Political Fora for the past four elections now, Danny de Leon said in his briefer. For the May 14 elections, there are three on sked, all of which will be held at the Plaza Quezon. The program proper starts at 7pm, with full media coverage spanning not more than three hours:

  • Congressional candidates for the 1st and 4th districts: Friday, April 20
  • Congressional candidates for the 2nd and 3rd districts: Saturday, April 21
  • Candidates for Camarines Sur governor and Naga City mayor: Friday, April 27.
The following only dawned to me this morning after I connected some dots:

1. Will Dato Arroyo show up? I will not be surprised if he doesn't. His representative, lawyer J. Agapito Tria II (who used to be NIA assistant administrator for administrative services, but apparently not anymore), begun laying "the predicate yesterday," to borrow the language of former Chief Justice Hilario Davide.

"Will you allow a representative to speak on behalf of a candidate: a proxy in other words?" he asked. Nope, CCCom said.

"What if a candidate really wants to attend, but is prevented from doing so for some reason, will it be OK if the moderator just reads his speech?"

"It is very possible in Dato's case, especially with the FG's medical condition," Doming Alarkon, representing 2nd District congressman Luis R. Villafuerte, chimed in.

The CCCom did not answer categorically. Danny de Leon, for one, thinks it is not acceptable -- who will answer on the candidate's behalf if the public raises questions about the speech? Fr. Louie Occiano said they will soon come up with a definitive decision. As I left, I saw Pito Tria in huddle Fr. Wilmer who is also a Tria, one of the moderators for the fora, apparently arguing his case.

We will have an idea by the afternoon of Wednesday, April 18, as the deadline for confirmation of participation by all invited candidates was set for 12 noon of the same day.

2. Character will be an issue. Especially how Gov. LRay Villafuerte relates to his father, which remains a primetime news stuff. The third general guideline of the fora states
The fora will strictly focus on relevant issues and concerns only. Character and personal assault, directly or through insinuation, are unacceptable.
The most active participant in the briefer -- an articulate Treo-toting guy whose name I did not get, but I have a feeling was there to represent former Tourism Secretary Eduardo Pilapil, who was put up by the elder Villafuerte to run against his son -- took issue with this guideline, considering that the second of three suggested items for each candidate's presentation dwells on personal integrity. (The others are competence and commitment to the common good.)

In the end, I think he got his way: the CCCom greenlighted a more acceptable rephrasing of his original loaded question, both of which centers on how a son treats his father. Final say, however, rests on a "panel of interrogators," whose composition will only be announced during every forum; they will screen all incoming questions to ensure they are within bounds of the CCCom guidelines.