Walden Bello to attend final VP debate despite Sara's expected absence

Josiah Antonio, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 20 2022 07:32 PM

 Vice presidential candidate Walden Bello answers questions during the Commission on Elections’ #PilipinasDebates2022: The Turning Point at the Sofitel Tent in Pasay City on March 20, 2022. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News.
Vice presidential candidate Walden Bello answers questions during the Commission on Elections’ #PilipinasDebates2022: The Turning Point at the Sofitel Tent in Pasay City on March 20, 2022. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News.

MANILA — Partido Lakas ng Masa vice presidential contender Walden Bello said Wednesday he will attend the last Commission on Elections-organized debate despite the expected absence of rival Sara Duterte-Carpio.

Bello, during the first debate, said he was tempted to leave the event because of the absence of Duterte-Carpio, and even of the latter's running mate, former Sen. Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr., in the presidential forum.

"I will be attending the final debate even if Sara Duterte is not there because the issues at stake are really very large at this point," Bello told ABS-CBN News in an interview.

Citing the shooting incident in Bukidnon involving a local tribe and his running mate Leody de Guzman, Bello said the debate will be a forum to address issues faced by the Filipino people. 

"I think that the vice presidential debate will be a forum to air how our whole system of politics serves the rich, or does not serve or undermine the interest of the majority of our people in this country," Bello said. 

"Kailangang kailangan na we participate in a debate in which we show to the people what the Philippine political system is really like. Wala na ‘yung pa-pogi-pogi and people presenting themselves as this and that," he added.

(It is imperative that we participate in a debate in which we show the people what the Philippine political system is really like. Let's do away with just making ourselves look good, and people presenting themselves as this and that.)

Bello said he will make sure to share as well his sentiment on how the presidential daughter refuses to participate in aspects of the electoral process. 

"Hindi naman sisipot si Sara Duterte diyan (Sara Duterte will not go). But I will also use that forum to denounce the fact that she does not want to participate in a democratic process and instead intimidate people who call on her to participate in a national debate, which is really important so that people can make the choices that they make," he said. 

"We have to bring the voice of reality there. And I think we will bring the voice of the deadly reality of what it is to be from the masses of Filipinos today. I will participate in that debate to show that if there is justice in the Philippines, it is only justice that serves the rich, which is a big, big injustice to the vast majority of this country... Gagamitin ko ang debate para maipakita itong (I will use the debate to show the) very sad tragic reality of elite rule in this country."

The final vice presidential debate will be held on Saturday, April 23, in a town hall format, and discuss the plight of vulnerable sectors including workers, farmers, overseas Filipino workers, the LGBT community, and women.

During the first vice presidential debate held last March, Bello repeatedly questioned the absence of Duterte-Carpio, saying, "This is becoming a big joke. Sara (Duterte-Carpio) is not with us. We’re slashing one another for her benefit. I mean, the Commission on Elections should do something about this."

"Commissioner, chair, maaari ba, (maybe) you penalize these two people (Bongbong) Marcos and Sara Duterte, not showing themselves up to the Filipino people with their programs, so that masuri (analyze) po ng Filipino people ‘yung kanilang record, kung ano po ‘yung (what their) programs nila (are)," he added.

Bello said penalizing no-show candidates by barring them from the e-rallies of Comelec is not enough. 

"‘Yung ginagawa ho niyong penalty, hindi sasama sa e-rally, my God, ang hina po niyon. We need stronger penalties for these people. Kasi ho, this is so undemocratic that they’re not here. I’m tempted to walk out right now because precisely we’re making fools of ourselves without this person who is just clapping there. Mr. Chair, can you answer this. We need your answer. You are the Commission on Elections, you can penalize these two jokers. Marcos and Duterte are not showing up," he said. 

(The penalty of excluding them from e-rallies is weak.)

"They’re spitting in the face of the Filipino people. Can you say something to them right now? Tell them to show up. I’m really pissed off that these two jokers are not here. We can't show their records. They have to show up so that the Filipino people can judge. Otherwise, this is a f*cking big joke."

He went on to sing "Where Are You" by Frank Sinatra and asked the late dictator's son to pay his tax liabilities, as a way or responding to the question if it would be more effective to have only one anti-corruption agency. 

"This is meant specifically for Sara (Duterte-Carpio) and Bongbong Marcos, and I’ll sing, Frank Sinatra. 'Where are you? Where did you go without me? I thought you cared about me'."

"Where are you? Nasaan ka? Nasaan ang pera? Ibalik mo na ang pera. Ibalik mo na. That’s for Marcos Jr. P203 billion, you owe it to the Filipino people. Give it back," he continued.

(Where are you? Where is the money? Return the money. Return it.)

Bello previously said that a possible lack of programs for the Filipino people may have something to do with Duterte-Carpio's refusal to attend debates.

Both Marcos and Duterte-Carpio have said they prefer to focus on their campaign trail.

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