The last Pacquiao versus Bradley bout ended hours before, but it seemed more strikes and jabs were thrown in the first and lone vice presidential debate on Sunday, April 10, at the University of Santo Tomas.
Organized by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) with CNN Philippines and Business Mirror, the debate lasted for almost four hours with the six candidates on top of their game from start to finish.
Senator Alan Peter Cayetano of the Nacionalista Party (NP); Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero of the Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC); Senator Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan II of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA); Representative Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo of the Liberal Party (LP); Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. and Senator Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes IV both from NP, discussed corruption, human rights, peace and order, traffic, among others.
Here are some snippets from the square off that you may have missed.
1. Marcos heckled
Marcos was only about to start his opening statements when hecklers in the venue started shouting “never again.” The same shouts and boos were heard for the rest of debate. While CNN anchors and debate moderators Pinky Webb and Pia Hontiveros called for some peace in the audience, the shouts only grew louder especially when Marcos aired his thoughts on corruption, political dynasties, and human rights violations.
When asked if he will apologize for the wrongdoings of his father, the late president Ferdinand Marcos, he only had this to say: “I will apologize for any wrongdoings I may have done, but I can't apologize for anyone else.”
The crowd went even more ballistic when Cayetano started to question Marcos again, after several times in the debate on why his family has not returned their alleged ill-gotten wealth. “I cannot return what I don’t have,” Marcos said.
2. Cayetano hits on political dynasties
These hits continued for the rest of the night as Cayetano repeatedly questioned Marcos on his family’s track record and the senator’s alleged corrupt activities. Even in his opening statements, he quickly attacked political dynasties: “For 50 years, puro Marcos, Cojuangco, and Aquino. Wala na bang iba?”
(For 50 years, it has always been the Marcoses, Cojuangcos, and Aquinos [ruling the land]. Don’t we have other choices?)
Such was Cayetano’s words even when he admitted to have been part of a political dynasty himself and agreed when asked if anti-political dynasty bill should be passed.
3. Honasan defends running mate Binay
Vice President Jejomar Binay may be in attendance in the debates as an audience member but he was not spared from the discussions. Trillanes took a swipe on his alleged corrupt activities with Binay even seen booing while he does so.
Honasan, however, called for fairer media reporting as he lamented some “corrupt” members of the press. “Politicians get a trial by publicity, rendering our courts irrelevant. When your name gets printed on the front page, you’re done. It affects public leaders and their families as well.”
The Binays have been crying foul on media reports against their family, calling some publications having “biased” media reporting. The Vice President has an ongoing graft case over the alleged overpriced construction of the Makati City Hall Building III.
4. Trillanes hits on Duterte-Cayetano campaign promises
As Cayetano promised to end criminality in six months with his running mate, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, Trillanes questioned these claims, when their hometowns are not even crime-free.
“Davao has the fourth highest crime rate in the Philippines. Taguig still has crimes. 'Wag tayong magbolahan, mag-present ka ng plano. Unfair paniwalain ang taong bayan ng ganoon.” he said.
(Let’s not fool each other, present a plan. It would be unfair to let the people believe [you can do it.])
But Cayetano quickly rebutted and said in Filipino, “Instead of attacking Duterte why not present a plan yourself.”
To which Trillanes answered, “It’s not true there are no more crimes in Davao and Taguig. Let’s not make our people waste their votes. Then they’ll tell us they will resign if they don’t do their job?”
5. Escudero vs Robredo on FOI bill, anti-corruption stance
One of the causes championed by the Poe-Escudero tandem is the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill as a means to eradicate corruption for its transparency. However, Robredo questioned Escudero’s stand as she said the senators’ version of the bill still calls for “demand” for government documents to be made public.
Escudero quickly answered that it was not the case and clarified the bill has already been approved in the Senate but was stuck in Congress.
But when Robredo asked on what the senator has done to eradicate pork barrel during his time as congressman, Escudero failed to give a categorical answer.
“You mentioned that discretion should be eradicated from government officials to stop corruption, but what have you done to eliminate pork barrel in your time as congressman? It was during my term when it was removed,” Robredo asked in Filipino.
To which, Esudero only answered: “I never received any pork [barrel] during [former President Gloria] Arroyo’s time.”
6. Robredo, Cayetano called debate winners by netizens
Based on Rappler’s and Inquirer.net’s polls, administration bet Robredo and PDP-laban candidate Cayetano emerged victorious in the debates.
Robredo won the polls on the Inquirer.net page garnering 42.58% of the 10,595 votes. Meanwhile, netizens chose Cayetano in the publication’s Facebook page securing 44% of the total 14,287 votes.
On Rappler’s page, Cayetano swept all rounds, but when netizens were asked on who was the overall winner, it was Robredo who tallied most votes. - Elyssa Christine Lopez
Photo from UST Central Student Council Twitter page