Hugpong bets no show at Plaza Miranda debate challenge

Ron Gagalac, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 25 2019 04:41 PM

Hugpong bets no show at Plaza Miranda debate challenge 1
Otso Deretso senatorial candidates pose after senatorial candidates under Hugpong ng Pagbabago failed to show up on Monday for a public debate challenge in Plaza Miranda, Manila. The coalition had proposed a public debate on various issues to let the people know each candidate's stand on issues.  Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Not a single administration senatorial bet from Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) responded to the challenge of opposition slate Otso Diretso for a public debate at Plaza Miranda on Monday. The opposition bets thus waited in vain for the battle of platforms they were hoping to engage. 

Early to arrive in Plaza Miranda were candidates Gary Alejano, Chel Diokno, Pilo Hilbay, Romulo Macalintal, and Erin Tañada, but until the scheduled 12 noon debate in front of Quiapo Church, no one from the 13 candidates of Hugpong ng Pagbabago showed up.

Last week, the Otso Diretso candidates challenged other senatorial candidates to face them in debates instead of complaining about the alleged “negative campaigning” during sorties. 

The invitation, however, was informal and was simply coursed through the media in a forum the opposition candidates attended last week, and it was the Otso Diretso slate who picked the time and place.

There was no formal communication made to Hugpong ng Pagbabago about the debate, but its chairperson, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, told reporters during their campaign sortie in Nueva Ecija also last week that her party's senatorial candidates are "willing" to debate with the opposition bets.

“Matapos nilang tanggapin ang hamon, no show sila ngayon dito sa Plaza Miranda. Yung mga tao nya tumatakbo sa Senado, pero tumatakbo sa debate,” veteran election lawyer Macalintal said.

“Hindi dahil gusto namin magyabang, hindi dahil gusto naming magpasikat, pero gusto namin na malaman ng mamamayan sino ang dapat nilang iboto,” former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay said.

Otso Diretso said debates are important to know the candidates' positions on social issues such as but not limited to extra-judicial killings and the TRAIN or tax reform law, rather than just being blown away by huge banners, campaign jingles, and creative ads.

“Para malaman sino ang may track record, ang may paninindigan at may kakayahan na maging senador,” Diokno said.

“Importante na makita ano ang background mo o ano ang mga polisya na tinatayuan mo na hindi makakabuti sa taong bayan,” Ajejano said.

The opposition candidates are now calling on the administration bets to schedule the debate and arrange the location and the date. They vowed that they will be there to face their rivals.

“Sila na ang magtakda kung anong araw at lugar, pupuntahan namin sila kung gusto nila makipag-debate sa amin. Hindi kami tumatakbo, handa kami humarap sa kanila, anong lugar at araw kami ay sisipot,” Tañada said.

With no one to debate with, the candidates simply went around the Quiapo area to shake hands with potential voters, had selfies with supporters, and personally introduced themselves to people who hardly knew them.