MANILA, Philippines - As expected, there were winners and losers among the 12 senatorial candidates who participated in ABS-CBN’s HARAPAN: Mga Isyu ng Bayan debate Sunday night at La Consolacion College, Manila.
At least three candidates – Nacionalista Party’s Adel Tamano and Liberal Party bets Neric Acosta and Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel – topped the debates after getting consistently high votes in text and online polls as well as the wireless audience response system (WARS), which gauged audience reaction to the candidates.
On the other hand, Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino bet Francisco “Kit” Tatad rated poorly in the WARS and online polls while placing only eighth in number of text votes in the debate. (Read: Results of HARAPAN senatorial debate voting)
The 12 candidates -- Tamano, Acosta, Hontiveros-Baraquel, Tatad, Liza Maza (NP), Imbong, JV Bautista (PMP), Silvestre Bello III (Lakas-Kampi CMD), Kata Inocencio (Bangon Pilipinas, Raul Lambino (Lakas-Kampi CMD), Satur Ocampo (NP) and Jovito Palparan -- were invited based on the six issues to be discussed during the debate.
The debates were simulcast live on ABS-CBN, ABS-CBN News Channel and abs-cbnNEWS.com. It will be replayed on Studio 23 and The Filipino Channel.
Ocampo and Palparan provided plenty of fireworks at the start of the debate as they took on the issue of human rights violations. (Read: Satur loses 1st round vs Palparan in HARAPAN debate)
Ocampo, congressional representative of the leftist Bayan Muna party-list and a guest candidate of the NP, castigated the Armed Forces of the Philippines for being the country’s number 1 human rights violator.
On the other hand, Palparan scored Ocampo for failing to condemn the atrocities committed by the New People’s Army.
Members of the WARS audiences, numbering 180 select viewers from Manila, Dagupan, Iloilo and Cagayan de Oro, saw Palparan as the clear winner in the debate. After the first round, 73.7% of the WARS audience said they did not believe Ocampo while only 26.3% said they believed the Bayan Muna lawmaker. He fared no better in the second round, getting 77.4% disapproval and 22.6% approval from the WARS audience.
Palparan had higher ratings in the WARS polls for both rounds of the debate. A total of 57.1% of WARS audience said they believed the former military official’s answers in the first round, while 51.8% said they believed him in the second round.
Ocampo said Palparan clearly exploited anti-communist sentiment to get higher ratings in the debate.
“Mukhang malakas ang anti-communist sentiments na ine-exploit ni Palparan, sa kabila ng desisyon ng korte at ng termino ko sa Congress. I’m sorry about it. Akala ko wala na ganyang bias, pero halata ang intensified campaign nila. Siya’y pinoproteksyonan ni Gloria (Arroyo),” he said.
Tamano gets high marks
If Ocampo and Palparan started off the debate on a tense note, the other candidates were more cordial to one another.
Tamano’s face-off with Bello on the issue of justice and accountability was more laid back as the two even backed each other’s positions. (Read: Tamano, Bello play it safe in political debate)
Bello supported Tamano for his refusal to reimpose the death penalty while the latter supported the Lakas bet’s proposal for a permanent peace commission that would handle all peace negotiations with rebel groups.
Tamano, however, revealed that he held back on a rebuttal against Bello on the issue of holding President Arroyo accountable for various corruption scandals under her administration.
He said there is already strong evidence against President Arroyo and that she should be prosecuted.
He also said that his diplomatic stance in the debate helped him get the most text votes in the debate, and that it was indicative of the people’s dislike for mudslinging.
Tamano got 18.6% of the HARAPAN text votes as of 12:47 a.m., placing him on the top of the list of 12 candidates who joined the debates. He also received high marks in the Wireless Audience Response System, with 92.2% approval rating in the 1st round of the debate and 83.3% approval in the second round.
Some of the debates also showed contrasts on the way the candidates presented their arguments.
Hontiveros-Baraquel was calm and collected as she extolled on the virtues of the reproductive health bill. On the other hand, Tatad was more forceful in saying he is firmly against contraception and abortions, which is allegedly being supported by the RH bill. (Read: Hontiveros, Tatad debate on RH Bill)
A supporter of the PMP candidate also showed data on the low success rate of condoms to stop the spread of sexually transmitted illnesses.
Hontiveros-Baraquel was the clear winner in the exchange, getting higher scores than Tatad in the text, online and WARS polls. Tatad, however, showed no ill-will against his rival and even raised the LP bet’s hand after the debate.
He also blamed the media for making critics of the RH bill unpopular.
“I don’t know who are judging us if they understood us or not. It’s a complicated issue, not everyone understands it,” he told ABS-CBN.
He added: “The media has propagated a campaign on the RH bill. It has created a misimpression about it. It might have made my stand unpopular.”
The debate between Acosta and Maza also showed the contrast between the two senatorial bets’ solutions to alleviating poverty. Maza emphasized the need to develop the local agriculture industry while Acosta focused on beefing up the education sector. (Read: A contrast of styles mark Acosta-Maza exchange)
Both candidates traded barbs at each other for their political allegiances. Maza scored the defection of several key allies of President Arroyo to the Liberal Party and said the current stock distribution option in Hacienda Luisita is unconstitutional. LP presidential bet Noynoy Aquino’s family is a part owner of the hacienda.
On the other hand, Acosta scored the “revolutionary taxes” imposed by communist guerrillas, which are allegedly being protected by Maza. He also noted that Maza’s inclusion in the Nacionalista Party slate has put her on equal footing with fellow NP senatorial bet Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., son of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos.
Bautista and Lambino, meanwhile, got almost an equal percentage of votes through WARS while tackling the issue of good governance.
Finally, Inocencio and Imbong were equally respectful of each other’s positions on the issue of the separation of church and state.
Harapan is 5th top trending topic on Twitter
The Harapan debate again set a new record after the hashtag “harapan” became the 5th highest trending topic on Twitter at the height of the debate late Sunday.
Some Filipinos relied entirely on Twitter for their Harapan coverage, with some commenting that with such comprehensive commentary on #harapan, they felt they hardly needed to see the actual show:
One overseas Filipino wrote: “Frustrated that I can't watch #harapan. I may not be in the country but I'm a registered overseas voter! Thanks for the updates tweeps.”
Another wrote: “Stopped watching #harapan. I'll read the updates on twitter nalang haha. Sakit sa ulo!”
The popularity of #harapan also had an unexpected effect: confused foreigners wandering into the discussion. Indonesian posters took to posting their hopes and wishes because harapan, while meaning “face-off” in Filipino, means “hope” or “wish” in Bahasa Indonesian. With reports from Niko Baua, ABS-CBN News, and Michal de Tagle, abs-cbnNEWS.com Halalan 2010 Volunteer