MANILA -- Opposition senatorial candidate Chel Diokno, who trended on Twitter for his bold answer to a debate question, said Monday more young voters were getting to know him because of his "woke" stand on issues, especially on martial rule.
On the 33rd anniversary of the bloodless People Power revolt that ended the Marcos regime, Diokno renewed his challenge for rival senatorial candidate Imee Marcos to a debate to "thresh out so many issues."
The eldest daughter of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos is ahead of Diokno in most pre-election surveys ahead of the May 13 mid-term vote.
"I'm very happy with the responses and reactions that I'm getting when I go around, especially the youth, naaliw sila sa akin (they find me amusing)," he told ANC's Headstart.
"Some of the comments that I heard, ano daw ako, 'woke lolo.' Ano ibig sabihin ng 'woke lolo'? Progresibong matanda. That's very encouraging to me," he said.
(Some of the comments I heard, I'm a woke grandfather. What's a woke grandfather? A progressive old man.)
During ABS-CBN's Harapan 2019 senatorial townhall debates last Feb. 17, Diokno, in response to a question, said he would rather save himself than President Rodrigo Duterte or former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo if the 3 of them were stuck in a sinking ship.
Diokno said the Marcos family maintained a "good measure of popularity" due to image-building internet videos, even before the 2010 elections that saw the eldest son, Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. win a seat in the Senate. He lost to Vice President Leni Robredo in 2016.
"There's a concerted effort to build up an image that is different from the facts that we know," he said.
During his campaign sorties, Diokno said he found that young voters were listening intently. "They want to know the truth and they are learning so fast how to discern between fake news and what's really true," he said.
The Otso Diretso slate has challenged their rivals from the administration ticket to a debate at noon on Monday.
"I really wanted to debate with Imee Marcos. We have to thresh out so many issues. Their camp has been saying so many things. The records are there, the facts are there. It's unfair to revise history," he said.
Diokno said he would tap social media and continue campaigning through debates, refusing what he described as a "tarp war."
"The Senate is not about making tarpaulins. The Senate is about making laws," he said.
Diokno said the public should care about the anniversary of People Power, even in the face of a resurgent Marcos family.
"The freedoms we enjoy would not be here if not for EDSA. Some people forget that," he said.
The 1986 revolt on EDSA, the Philippine capital's main highway, toppled Marcos and installed into the presidency then housewife Cory Aquino, the widow of his assassinated chief rival, Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr.
Former President Aquino formed a commission to recover Marcos' alleged ill-gotten wealth, estimated at $10 billion.