MANILA - Vice President Leni Robredo is still hopeful that the debate between opposition slate Otso Diretso and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte's senatorial roster Hugpong ng Pagbabago would push through, saying substance matters more than entertainment in the election campaign.
Robredo, who is backing the Liberal Party-led opposition slate, said there was nothing wrong with candidates entertaining voters through song and dance numbers in campaign sorties as long as they also tackle important issues.
“Sa tingin ko hindi naman masama kumanta at sumayaw pero sana mas malalim doon, sana pagkatapos sumayaw at kumanta sabihin kung ano ang tinatayuan,” Robredo said in response to a question on such campaign style.
(I don't think it's bad to sing and dance but hopefully [campaigning] is deeper than that, hopefully after the dance and song the candidate will say the platform he or she stands for.)
Robredo is optimistic that administration and opposition candidates would still come face-to-face and engage on issues after the President's daughter said her slate was still open to the idea.
The younger Duterte is supporting a slate of 13 candidates while her father, President Rodrigo Duterte, is backing 12. Their rosters share mostly the same bets.
Several members of the two slates have appeared in televised debates.
“Sana matuloy, dahil 'yung debate naman, eto 'yung pagkakataon na makikita ng botante side by side iyong mga kandidato at maintindihan kung saan sila tumatayo pagdating sa mga issues,” Robredo said.
(I hope it pushes through because the debate, this is the chance for voters to see the candidates side by side and understand where they stand on issues.)
The Vice President continued campaigning for the Otso Diretso candidates in Carmona, Dasmariñas and General Trias in Cavite in her multi-sectoral dialogues, even without the candidates themselves.
She said that while most of her candidates may not be as popular as others running for the Senate, they have proven integrity and track record.
In her rounds, Robredo shows audio-visual presentations to introduce the candidates and uses the mnemonic device “MATH GRAD” to help voters remember names of Otso Diretso candidates.
The acronym was taken from the last names of opposition candidates lawyer Romulo Macalintal, Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano, former lawmaker Erin Tañada, former Solicitor General Florin "Pilo" Hilbay, Marawi civic leader Samira Gutoc, former Sen. Mar Roxas, reelectionist Sen. Bam Aquino, and human rights lawyer Chel Diokno.
“Yung paniniwala ko dapat 'yung inihahain natin 'yung pinakamabubuti at pinakamahuhusay. Kahit hindi kilala, pagpaguran na lang magpakilala,” Robredo said.
(I believe that we should offer are the kindest and the best. Even if they are not known, we should work hard to introduce them.)
The Vice President also threw shade at a former opponent who she did not name, claiming that the individual capitalized on vote-buying.
“Kasi alam niyo po iyong kalaban ko, bumili nang bumili ng boto, gumastos ng maraming pera. Pero ako po, kapag makilala ng tao kung sino ka talaga, parating pipiliin iyong mas maayos,” Robredo told Carmona residents during her visit.
(Because you know, my opponent went on a vote-buying spree, spent a lot of money. But for me, once people get to know who you really are, they will always choose the better one.)
Robredo is currently defending her May 2016 victory against an electoral protest filed by former Sen. Bongbong Marcos, whose sister Ilocos Sur Gov. Imee Marcos is seeking a Senate seat under the administration coalition.