MANILA (UPDATE) — A possible lack of programs for the Filipino people may have something to do with Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio's refusal to attend debates among the Halalan 2022 vice presidential candidates, her rival Prof. Walden Bello said Tuesday.
"A lot of us have personal reasons. But a lot of us have put them aside in order to put on a higher obligation to face the country in the vice-presidential and presidential debates," Bello told reporters.
"They don’t have any program to offer. Their record is bad. And if they are in a debating situation with other aspirants for the vice presidency and presidency, they will be shown to be the fakes that they are."
Reiterating her stand not to attend debates, Duterte-Carpio, the running mate of presidential aspirant Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr., said Monday, "Yes, may reason ako. But I don't want to say it to the public, what the reason is. So we are discussing it with my team."
Duterte-Carpio, daughter of President Rodrigo Duterte, did not attend the vice presidential debate organized by CNN Philippines last Saturday, and will do the same during a similar event by the Commission on Elections later this month.
Bello said the debates could help Duterte-Carpio issue clarifications on some allegations about her programs in Davao City and on rumors that drugs are allegedly still prevalent in the area.
"Participating in a national debate is the only way Inday Sara can explain these blots on her record as the top city officer of Davao City that cast doubt on her fitness to hold higher office. If you can’t run your city properly, how can people trust you to run a big and complex country?" Bello said.
"So I repeat my question, Mayor Sara, why are you a coward? Nganong talawan man ka, Inday. You’re bringing shame to Davaoenos who have to add another award, that of best hideout for no-shows in national debates,” he added.
'CHECK MY TRACK RECORD'
Bello also refuted a claim by Duterte-Carpio's camp that he is only relying on tweets and soundbites for his 2022 campaign, saying he is on-ground campaigning.
"I have been really going around campaigning. I have been with people … Even if I was not campaigning, I would have been there because the important thing was to show solidarity with them," he said.
The former lawmaker enumerated the laws he authored such as the Reproductive Health Law and the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms (CARPER), among others, that according to him, prove his competence to be the country's next vice president.
"Wala po kaming kinakatakutan (we have nothing to fear) and we deliver. Unlike you, we deliver. What we say, we’re going to do. ‘Yan po ang kampanya namin ni (that's my campaign with) Ka Leody (de Guzman), two individuals that have delivered of what they have told the people what they’re going to do," Bello said.
"Paki-check lang po ng record namin. You can Google easily, otherwise you expose yourself making silly statements that can easily be torn down," he added.
(Please check our record. You can search on Google easily, otherwise you expose yourself making silly statements that can easily be torn down.)
Bello said he questioned other candidates regarding their alleged inconsistencies and programs in debates, noting the nature of the event is to know the truth.
"If there are people that are not fit to run the country or not fit to the vice presidency, then I have to speak to that, I have to show that. It’s my responsibility to the truth to, in fact, say this because more important than winning this election is telling the truth," he said.
"I cannot BS, I cannot stand people who show themselves as something that they’re really not."
Duterte-Carpio's camp had said that she is focused on facing the people as compared to others who apparently are "hiding."
"Candidates are at liberty to decide whether or not to accept invitations to debates. It is also within a candidate’s discretion to limit his exposure to tweets and soundbites only, as Walden Bello has done, or to have a direct and personal engagement with the people, as Mayor Sara has shown this entire campaign season," her camp said in a statement.
"Sabi ni Walden Bello, duwag daw si Mayor Sara. Pero sino sa kanila ang nagtatago sa mga tao ngayong kampanya?"
Bello is a former House representative of the Akbayan party-list, but he resigned in 2015 over political differences with the Aquino administration. He is an adjunct professor of sociology at the State University of New York at Binghamton.
Duterte-Carpio is leading recent surveys on preferred vice presidential candidates in the May elections.