POLITICS

Exclusive portraits of the candidates at the CNN Philippines Presidential Debate 2022

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These photographs are paired with their answers to our rapid-fire interview — seemingly simple but bare the basic tenets of their beliefs as leaders and politicians. Photos by JL JAVIER

“Para naman akong artista,” labor leader and presidential candidate Leody De Guzman joked when our photographer asked him to try a few poses for these portrait sessions. The portraits may not have been pang-poster or pang-artista notebook, but sitting down for them could very well serve as training if they win the elections on May 9, as the winner will sit down for a presidential portrait session of their own. The face of the highest official in the country, after all, will possibly be watching over public places like classrooms, eateries, and offices.

The other candidates are at ease because they have done this many times, such as Vice President Leni Robredo, Senator Manny Pacquiao, Senator Panfilo Lacson, and Manila Mayor Isko Moreno. For former presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella, former Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales, businessman Faisal Mangondato, and Dr. Jose Montemayor, an air of dignity is present, much like all of the candidates. In a few hours, it’s game time.

Similar to our Vice Presidential Debate portraits, these photographs are paired with their answers to our rapid-fire interview — seemingly simple but bare the basic tenets of their beliefs as leaders and politicians.

Photos by JL JAVIER

ERNESTO ABELLA

I want to become president because I have a vision for the nation and I know how to get there.

The first thing I’ll do if I win the elections is I would thank God.

I knew I was called to become a public servant in 2016.

In my first 100 days, I will prioritize the selection of the cabinet secretaries and the staff.

A principle I always live by is sow and reap.

Photos by JL JAVIER

LEODY DE GUZMAN

I want to become president because gusto ko baguhin ang kalakaran ng gobyerno. Gusto ko ang gobyerno natin ay uunahin ang kapakanan ng mamamayang Pilipino lalo na ang ating mahihirap. Hindi ‘yung naka-pokus sa mga big business. Hindi pwede idaan sa mga negosyante ang pagpapaunlad ng ating bansa. Failure yun, kaya unahin na natin ang ating mamamayan.

The first thing I will do once I will win the elections is unahin natin harapin ang usapin ng kabuhayan, ng ating mga mamamayan. Ang daming nagugutom. At pangalawa, ang COVID. Ang kalusugan ng mga mamamayan dahil sa COVID. ‘Yung dalawang sektor na yan. ‘Yung sektor ng pagkain at ‘yung sektor ng kalusugan. Para mag-create din ng trabaho yan.

I knew I was called to public service when… ito lang. Wala sa isip ko eh. (Laughs) Itong eleksyon eh napagkasunduan na panahon na magkaroon ng lalaban mula sa sektor ng mga mamamayan natin. Hindi na pwede ‘yung galing sa tuktok ng ating lipunan. Kasi ang pinapaburan lang ang mga nasa tuktok din. Kaya dahil doon sa hamon na ‘yun, may krisis ng kabuhayan, may krisis ng kalusugan, may krisis ng klima, na tingin namin ay may pananagutan yung gobyerno sa patakaran na ginawa. Kaya inabot natin ang krisis na kung magpapatuloy pa ay hindi na maganda. Tumakbo ako para magka alternatibo.

In my first 100 days I will prioritize… Nako, sa 100 days talaga, ipa-prioritize ko ang kabuhayan at kalusugan ng ating mamamayan. Ang paglaban sa COVID-19, at ang ating pagkain, at trabaho para sa mga manggagawa.”

A principle that I always live by is unahin ang tao bago tubo. ‘Yun lang ang sa akin.

Photos by JL JAVIER

ISKO MORENO DOMAGOSO

I want to become president because we really wanted to share what we have done in the city of Manila with the entire country, for every Filipino, mapataas natin yung antas ng pamumuhay ng bawat Pilipino at maramdaman naman nila ng gobyerno na tao naman ang inuuna. At ‘yung pagkakapantay-pantay, especially nowadays yung mga kulang sa buhay, yung mga mahihirap, parang lagi napagkakaitan ng pagkakataon. So ‘yung equal opportunity will be the focus in navigating ‘yung katatayuan ng tao sa ating bansa.

The first thing I will do once I win the elections is… well, yung burokrasya, ‘yun ang una kong aayusin, yung ease of doing business. Sa burokrasya, doon nababalam ang lahat. There’s too much redundancy in government, and we’ll put people based on merits and ability. Pipili tayo ng tao na capable, at magaling sa kanilang feed of undertaking. Meritocracy, short of saying. We will form the government as soon as possible, a new government that uh, medyo tumutugon sa hamon ng kasalukuyan, especially ang pangarap namin ni Doc Willie [Ong] ay magfocus on life and livelihood. In the first two years of six years, sa awa ng Diyos at sa tulong ng tao.”

I knew I was called to public service when… 23 years old palang ako noon. So that was like uh, 24 years. Kasi naisip ko, pinagpapasalamat ko sa Diyos na kahit ako basurero, o naka-ahon ako sa kinalalagyan ko. Through showbiz, naisip ko na ‘Why not in return for my blessings to serve the people?’ So matagal tagal na rin ako sa gobyerno pala. (Laughs) In 24 years. 47 years old na ako. Half of my life has been dedicated to public service. Sa awa ng Diyos, ‘yung pangarap ko na mabago lang ang buhay ng isang pamilya, at least ngayon, modesty aside, libu-libong mga pamilya. Eh what more kung mabigyan tayo ng pagkakataon ng taumbayan, at sa awa ng Diyos, baka we can change the lives for the better ng milyun-milyong nating kababayan, here and abroad.

In my first 100 days I will prioritize [putting] people [in positions], ‘yung magagaling, based on merits, ‘yung talagang burokrasya, pabibilisin natin yung sistema, and we will introduce and adopt technology to be more efficient, and limiting human discretion ang ating government transactions. These are the first things we need to do to form a new government facing the challenges of our times. Nakikinig sa tao. Sumasagot sa pangangailangan ng tao. Tumutugon sa mga suliranin ng tao. So those are the things that we’re going to do immediately in the first few weeks of our possible presidency.

A principle that I always live by is “Anything above zero is positive.” Ibig sabihin, you have to do something and act fast. Doing something will at least give you something. Hibernating and too much analyzing… it will paralyze everything. Tayo, kung mapapansin mo ang kampanya natin ay bilis kilos, dahil tayo ay naghahanap ng tunay na solusyon at mabilis na aksyon. Tulad ng temperature, anything above zero is positive.

Photos by JL JAVIER

NORBERTO GONZALES

I want to become president because I want to do structural changes in our political system.

The first thing I’ll do if I win the elections is that [same] one.

I knew I was called to become a public servant…. a long time ago (Laughs).

In my first 100 days, I will prioritize food security.

A principle I always live by is honesty.

Photos by JL JAVIER

PANFILO LACSON

I want to become president because I want to serve my country.

The first thing I will do once I will win the elections is sign a waiver of my rights under the bank secrecy act.

I knew I was called to public service in 1971, when I graduated (Laughs) from the PMA.

In my first 100 days I will prioritize cleansing of the government — of inept, corrupt, and undisciplined employees.

A principle that I always live by is “What is right must be kept right, what is wrong must be set right.”

Photos by JL JAVIER

FAISAL MANGONDATO

I want to become president because mahal ko ang aking bayan dahil ako ay taong sumusunod sa mga utos ng diyos. Ang bayan natin nangangailangan ng tulong dahil sa kahirapan.

The first thing I’ll do if I win the elections is I will put the government on autopilot. This means that we will depend on the civil service professionals, particularly the undersecretaries with securities of tenure to run the government based on programs and provisions I will introduce.

I knew I was called to become a public servant… when I become the president of the republic of the Philippines.

In my first 100 days, I will pray for God and call all the Filipinos to pray for our country. The other candidates… iipunin ko sila para magkaisa ang ating mga adhikain.

A principle I always live by is discipline and spiritual formation.

Photos by JL JAVIER

JOSE MONTEMAYOR JR.

I want to become president because I want to help the Filipino people.

The first thing I’ll do if I win the elections is… we will ask the Lord for national repentance because the President sinned against the Lord.

I knew I was called to become a public servant when… I have always been a public servant ever since I became a doctor, I also became a lawyer. So I already serve the poor, I already serve communities, public hospitals.

In my first 100 days, I will prioritize COVID-19 and its impact, as well as unemployment and job creation.

A principle I always live by is “For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

Photos by JL JAVIER

MANNY PACQUIAO

I want to become president dahil naranasan kong maghirap at gusto kong magserbisyo sa taong bayan natin, maiahon sa kahirapan ang ating bansa.

The first thing I will do once I will win the elections is [to] focus on sugpuin yung corruption, at focus sa pagpalakas ng ekonomiya, at magbigay ng trabaho sa milyun-milyong Pilipino.

I knew I was called to public service… from the beginning. Purposely God gave me these blessings and talent para maging public servant at tumulong sa tao.

In my first 100 days I will prioritize ‘yung pagbibigay ng trabaho sa ating kababayan at libreng pabahay, at pagsugpo ng korupsyon.”

A principle that I always live by is “In Godly leadership.”

Photos by JL JAVIER

LENI ROBREDO

I want to become president because the Philippines needs a leader who will lead from the front.

The first thing I will do once I will win the elections is get to work, no time to waste.

I knew I was called to public service in 1986, when I participated in the People Power revolution.

In my first 100 days I will prioritize showing people that I’m serious about fixing the government, put out executive orders on transparency and accountability.

A principle that I always live by is “The best ingredient of leadership is character.”