“What you see is what you’ll get.” 

This was the reaction of Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero on the Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) initiative to hold debates between and among national and local candidates for the 2016 elections. 

“Transparency. A true judge of character,” Escudero said of the proposed debates that would pit him against other vice presidential candidates, and his running mate, Sen. Grace Poe, against protagonists in the presidential derby—Vice President Jejomar Binay and administration bet Mar Roxas. 

Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte could be another presidential candidate should he reconsider his previous position to no longer join the race.

The filing of Certificates of Candidacy (COCs) starts on October 12 and ends on October 16.

“The debate will allow the people to get to feel the true sentiment, the sincerity of the candidates up close and personal. You know us, Filipinos, we prefer to meet people personally before we pass judgment on them,” Escudero said.

And given the more personal and intimate personal that debates create, Escudero said that “such discussions could be the ultimate equalizer in this day and age of social media and massive advertisements and advantageous for candidates without huge campaign kitty like us.” 

“Besides, nothing but a heated debate could bring out the true character in a candidate. Is the candidate so callous as to really feel for the people? Is the candidate so irritable and could be sent spiraling out of control with a fit of bad temper when confronted with contentious issues? Or is he able to stay calm and collected?

“A candidate should show how she or he could snap out decisions responsibly and reasonably in moments like these,” said Escudero, who was a known debater when he was a student at the UP College of Law.

He also proposed: “The Comelec debates should be like Facebook, Twitter and Skype—all rolled into one, but with a major twist. It’s got to be on stage and televised nationwide.” 

According to Escudero, debates on the local level should also be able to ferret out the good and bad qualities of the candidates because “they would be made to face up to the people.”

“Those times when you just see the local candidates on the podium and on the posters and billboards and not see them again until the next elections should end with these debates,” he said.