Fireworks in 2nd presidential debate

ABS-CBN News

THE GLOVES ARE OFF: The second presidential debate started an hour and a half late, but more than made up for it with verbal fireworks among the four candidates present.

The second leg of the PiliPinas Debates, hosted by TV5, BusinessWorld, The Philippine Star and the Commission on Election, was off to a bad start after one of the candidates - Vice President Jejomar Binay - said he needed several documents for the debate.

This led to a situation wherein three of the candidates - Senator Grace Poe, Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and ex-DILG Secretary Mar Roxas - were already onstage while waiting for Binay to come up. To pass the time, the three engaged in banter, with Duterte asking Roxas, "Mar, pag-usapan natin siya."

Candidates joke about delay in debate
 

Binay later joined the three even as TV5 News Head Luchi Cruz Valdez delivered a public apology for the delay.

"There has been serious miscommunication," Valdez said. "The [Commission on Elections] rules have initially stated at the outset that there should be no notes or documents to be brought by the candidates during the debate. This is a standing rule that was not communicated to me."

She explained that four or five days before the event, UNA spokesman Toby Tiangco called to ask her if the Vice President can bring notes with him to the debate.

"In earnest desire to make sure that all candidates would be present and not thinking that there was such a rule I did say 'I think so of course,'" she said.

Row over rules: Why 2nd presidential debate was delayed
 

POE FIRES FIRST SHOT

Poe fired the first salvo against Binay after questioning the vice-president's word that he would issue an executive order backing the Freedom of Information Bill if he is elected president. 

The senator challenged Binay to sign a waiver on his bank accounts. The latter then said he had already signed one and challenged the others to sign the same.

"Pinirmahan ko na po ito. Yayakagin ko kayo na pirmahan natin ho. Waiver ho, yung AMLC na tayo ay imbestigahan para makita po yung lifestyle at executive performance," he said.

For his part, Duterte said that if he is elected president, he will make sure that government officials cooperate to sign a similar waive.

He then turned to Binay and said: "Nandiyan na yung waiver mo, Vice-President? Nandiyan na yung waiver? Nakakatakot na. Pirmahan ko diyan sa harap mo."

Binay signs waiver to allow AMLA probe; Digong offers to sign
 

He also told Binay that he will withdraw from the presidential race if he is found culpable after the AMLC investigation.

"I'd like to be very, very brutally frank, to the Vice President. Sir, marami kang kaso sa COA at sa Ombudsman. Hindi, public knowledge naman 'yan. At ako naman ay sinasabi ng UNA na there's a technical malversation. Ang tanong ko, if you can produce ... pirmahan namin iyan, tapos 'pag may kaso ako, we will withdraw from the presidency derby."

However, Binay downplayed Duterte's dare and said he will not withdraw from the presidential race since he has not done anything unlawful.

"Alam mo, yung sinabi mo, Digong, magwithdraw sa presidency. E kaso, 'yung premise mo, e iyong may kasalanan mag-withdraw. Ako, hindi ako nagnakaw, bakit ako magwiwithdraw? Kung ikaw, sa konsensya mo, may kasalanan ka, mag-withdraw ka."

Dueterte took Binay's reply in stride and said Binay won't withdraw from the race since he has already spent so much for the campaign.

"O hindi kaya dahil malaki na ang gastos mo?" he told Binay.

Duterte twits Binay: Malaki na gastos
 

BINAY ATTACKS POE

Binay also went on the offensive against Poe by accusing the senator of not being a true Filipino.

"Hindi ka tunay na Pilipino kasi ikinahihiya mo...When you took your oath of allegiance for you to be naturalized as an American citizen, I abjure, kinahihiya ko ang pinanggalingan ko."

Binay attacks Poe: 'Hindi ka tunay na Pilipino'
 

For her part, Poe said there are 10 million overseas Filipinos who dream of coming back to the country but seek to go abroad to get higher-paying jobs.

"Mayor Binay, hindi lang po sa kulay yan. Nasa pagmamahal. Nandito ka nga sa bansa pero nangulimbat ka naman ng pera," she told Binay.

Binay then told Poe: "Kita mo, ikaw sama-sama kayo e sa conspiracy..."

Binay, Poe trade barbs over corruption, citizenship issues
 

The onstage back and forth at the University of the Philippines Cebu started when Binay was asked if he can be a president capable of seeing his son, former Makati Mayor Junjun Binay, convicted if the latter is found guilty of graft.

Binay answered in the affirmative and insisted that his government will uphold the rule of law.

Poe, however, countered that if Binay is willing to advocate the rule of law, he must first be ready to obey the simple guidelines of the debate.

She said Binay should have defended himself and his son from corruption allegations by attending the hearings of the Senate on the issue.

Their overlapping outbursts were relentless; with Poe insisting on the gravity of stealing from public coffers, and Binay stressing that he has not been convicted of any crime.

"Madame Senator, kung magbintang ka, parang ako'y nahatulan na," Binay told Poe.

Poe fired back: "Ikaw ba ang sinabi kong nangungulimbat?"

Binay, Poe trade barbs over corruption, citizenship issues
 

ROXAS COMES UNDER FIRE

Roxas also came under fire from his fellow candidates who questioned him over the alleged special treatment for fellow Liberal Party members as well as his alleged failures during the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda.

Duterte called out Roxas for allegedly claiming credit for several drug busts in Davao City.

"You are claiming credit which is not yours. Ang mahirap sa 'yo, Mar, you are always a pretentious leader," he said.

Roxas noted that some 30-40 barangays in Davao City remain drug-infested, according to a Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency report. He said this raises questions about Duterte's capability to follow through on his promise to rid the nation of criminality.

Duterte, however, noted that the Aquino administration "allowed shabu to be cooked inside the national penitentiary."

"Is that your performance?" he noted.

He said that as chief of the Department of the Interior and Local Government, he was in charge of the Philippine National Police which is tasked with solving crimes including the problem of illegal drugs. "Wala kang ginawa!" he said.

"Alam nila (the people) how hard it is really to work for the government. You are a fraud. You are pretentious!" Duterte explained.

He also revived his earlier claim that Roxas did not graduate from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, a claim that was already debunked by the school.

READ: Wharton confirms Roxas is its alumnus
 

During the debate, Roxas belied Duterte's claims and threw shade at the mayor's brand of justice.

Duterte replied: "Yan ang problema. 'Pag hindi ka marunong pumatay ng tao, at takot kang mamatay, 'yan ang problema. You cannot be a president."

The former interior secretary went on the defensive, saying he was not afraid to die for the Filipino people.

"Hindi ako takot mamatay. Ako mismo pumunta sa Yolanda. Ako mismo pumunta sa Zamboanga. Doon ako tumira," Roxas said.

He also said Duterte only went to the disaster area for a photo opportunity.

"You were there. You were asking us for coffee. We were accommodating you... Paano mo sasabihin na wala ako doon? I was the central player doon sa mga meeting na 'yun," Roxas said.

"Ikaw ang nawala. Dumating ka doon ng ilang oras, nagpa-photo op, umalis. 'Yan ang uri ng liderato mo."

Duterte calls Roxas 'pretentious, a weak leader'
 

POE VS ROXAS

Poe also had her own salvo against Roxas, saying the Aquino administration was using the bottom-up budgeting program (BuB) to woo the support of local government officials.

"Hindi ba kaduda-duda na nagkakaroon tayo ng BuB ngayon na malapit na ang eleksyon na parang nagiging insentibo sa local governments na maging panig sa administrasyon ngayon?" she said.

She pointed out that President Aquino did not seem to trust Roxas enough to inform him about the Mamasapano operation even though Roxas was head of the DILG at that time.

Roxas, however, said he was told by the President that he thought then PNP chief Alan Purisima would inform DILG about the operation. His response drew jeers from some members of the audience.

Poe also questioned the Aquino administration's campaign against corruption.

"Ang kinakasuhan lang ng [Liberal Party ay ang mga latak nilang miyembro. Pero yung mga miyembro nila na importante sa kanila, katulad ni Secretary Jun Abaya na pumirma ng maintenance contract ng APT Global, ay nandiyan pa rin at hindi man lang kinasuhan," she said.

Roxas denied that the administration is engaged in selective justice.

"LP, non-LP, lahat ay nakakasuhan, natatanggal sa pwesto. At makikito niyo yan. Yan ang record, yan ang totoo, hindi po yan kathang isip," he said.

Duterte, however, had one more stinging attack against Roxas. "You are the apologist of this administration," he said.

LIKE GOEBBELS

Binay also had stinging words for Roxas, even comparing him to Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels. This was after Roxas again raised the issue of the corruption allegations against Binay.

"Kung ikaw, magsalita, magnanakaw, nasa bintang lang kung ano. Alam mo ikaw, Mr. Roxas, ikaw eh talagang, disipulo ka ni Goebbels. 'Yun bang 1,000 lies ultimately eh, maniniwala ang tao na totoo. Ikaw 'yun, ang disipulo nun," he said, following Roxas' comment on Binay's alleged corruption.

"Kilala po ninyo si Goebbels dahil binabasa po niyo siya at sinusunod po niyo siya. Hindi ko po kilala 'yan," Roxas replied.

Roxas also denied that he benefited from any corruption scandal in the MRT maintenance contract as alleged by former MRT General Manager Al Vitangcol. He noted that it was Vitangcol who approved the contract even though one of PH Trams incorporators is his relative.

Who is Goebbels?
 

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