The first Commision on Elections (Comelec)-organized debate had its vice presidential leg last Sunday, April 10 held at the Quadricentennial Pavilion, University of Santo Tomas; with all six bets engaging in a heated debate about the country’s top issues.
The debate that ran for more than three hours was hosted by CNN Philippines in cooperation with Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) and Business Mirror, and was moderated by CNN Philippines’ chief correspondent Pia Hontiveros and senior anchor Pinky Webb.
Senators Alan Peter Cayetano, Chiz Escudero, Gringo Honasan, Bongbong Marcos, Antonio Trillanes and Camarines Sur 3rd District Representative Leni Robredo came with their respective platforms hoping to win the hearts of millions of Filipino people around the world.
It was during the first topic—which was about corruption—when sparks started to fly among the candidates. Marcos took a hit from Cayetano after the latter criticized him over his involvement in the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam and the alleged $10 billion stolen during his father’s reign. Marcos denied the allegations and questioned where Cayetano is getting all his figures.
Both Honasan and Escudero believed that in order to eliminate corruption, the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill must be passed in Congress. Robredo stated that the public should know every government transaction, while Trillanes believed that increasing the salary of government officials will prevent them from accepting bribes.
The debate also included a “Yes or No” portion, so candidates can share their stand towards the country’s major issues. For same sex marriage, all six candidates said “no.” Everyone are in favor of passing the Anti-Dynasty Law. All six also agreed that the Philippines is not yet ready to address the issue of climate change.
Cayetano’s audacity and constant beating of Marcos showed his eagerness to win the vice presidential seat and appealed to the supporters of his running mate, presidential bet Rodrigo Duterte. Marcos however remained unmoved despite the allegations and contstant booing from the audience who shouted “Never Again!”, an anti-Marcos slogan before the hecklers were escorted outside the venue.
Robredo on the other hand, was praised for her clear and substantive answers, thus winning the approval of many netizens who watched the debate. Honasan was also lauded for his excellence, in relation to his 18 years of experience as a senator and 17 years as a soldier. Escudero and Trillanes did not receive rave reactions from the audience.
Regardless of who wins after the May 9 elections and whoever gets elected as the president of the Philippines, all six vowed that they will assist the future president wholeheartedly.