Here’s a recap of the 2nd presidential debate aired on Sunday, March 20:
1. Santiago absent
Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago already informed three days before the debate that she would not be able to make it due to a clinical trial for an anti-cancer pill (she was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer). Her staff though took on Twitter on Sunday, making the feisty senator “virtually” present at the debate held in the University of the Philippines – Cebu.
2. Debate delayed, fewer ads
Netizens got impatient and took on social media when the debate was delayed for more than an hour (it was supposedly to be aired 5 pm Sunday on TV5). In a statement, the network explained that there was confusion on the rules implemented by the Commission on Elections (COMELEXC) on the debate.
Five minutes before the debate was to start, the camp of Vice President Jejomar Binay insisted on bringing notes to the stage, but part of the rules set between the COMELEC, media organizations, and political camps state that candidates would not be allowed to bring notes during the debate but would be allowed to bring blank pieces of paper so they could take down notes.
Liberal Party standard-bearer Manuel Roxas II’s camp reacted to the apparent last-minute “change” in rules, and TV5 head and #PiliPinas debate moderator Luchi Cruz-Valdes apologized for the confusion for she allowed the vice president to bring notes, not knowing it was against the rules.
There were also fewer ads by national candidates for this debate, as Rappler counted only 15 TV ads or equivalent to 6 minutes and 30 seconds across four commercial breaks during the debate.
3. Ganging up on Binay
CNN Philippines reported Davao City Mayor Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte, Senator Grace Poe, and former Interior and Local Government Secretary Roxas ganged up on Binay when the debate centered on corruption.
Binay and his family were invited several times by the Senate to answer allegations on ill-gotten wealth, particularly on the alleged overpriced Makati City carpark building and reported city hall ghost employees. The Vice President pivoted from Poe’s question and said if he is elected President, he would pass the Freedom of Information bill to fight corruption.
Duterte chimed in and said that to be brutally frank to Binay, he and his family still have pending corruption cases with the Office of the Ombudsman, to which the latter replied that the accusations are merely such, and that only the court can convict him if the corruptions allegations are true.
He even challenged the other candidates to sign a waiver to allow the Anti-Money Laundering Council and the Office of the Ombudsman to probe into their assets and lifestyles. Duterte asked if Binay has the waiver and he would sign it on live TV, while Roxas reiterated that bringing documents was against the debate rules, and that they can sign the waiver after the debate.
4. Poe’s not taking sides
Poe, meanwhile, reiterated that she is not taking sides on the issue of the coco levy fund scam. It was said the former President Ferdinand Marcos, Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile, along with businessman Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco and several others conspired to tax coconut farmers for supposedly, developing the coconut industry.
Poe, who is being accused of taking the side of Cojuangco, said during the debate such was not the case and that the fund is already in the hands of the government, and the controversial fund should go to the farmers, for the education of their children, for research and development to strengthen the industry.
5. ‘No liability’
Liberal Party standard bearer Roxas denied allegations that he has a liability over the alleged anomalies on maintenance contracts of the ailing Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT3).
Binay challenged Roxas during the debate that he must also answer for the corruption raps filed against him by former MRT3 General Manager Al Vitangcol. Roxas, referring to him in the third person said he has nothing to do with such corruption in MRT3.
6. Duterte leads online polls
Based on Rappler’s online poll, Duterte emerged as the “winner” of the second debate, being the top pick of social media users.
Duterte swept rounds 1 to 3 (panel discussions), as well as the one-on-one (the candidates grilling one another) with 249 out of 346 votes or 71.97%.
Roxas came in distant second in all four online polls, except for Round 1, where Poe was second.
The second round of #PiliPinas debate was organized by COMELEC, Kapisanan ng mga Broadkaster ng Pilipinas, TV5, and Philippine Star.
Here is also the recap of the first debate aired in February: Presidentiables square off in televised debate – Lynda C. Corpuz