Leading presidential candidate Senator Grace Poe engaged Vice President Jejomar Binay in heated debate on Sunday over issue of corruption that tainted the candidacy of the vice president.
During the second Presidential Debates 2016 held at the University of the Philippines (UP) Performing Arts Hall inCebu City, Poe was asked why the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill, despite hurdling the Senate, did not become law under the present administration.
”It was not passed in Congress. Although it was the priority of the administration, I did not see it was pushed,” Poe said.
Poe refused to name who among her fellow presidential candidates will block the passage of the FOI bill if elected in the May 9 elections.
”I don’t want to say who will block it but I’m sure somebody from my fellow candidates will do it,” she said.
”Are you referring to me?” Liberal Party standard-bearer Manuel “Mar” Roxas reacted.
Binay also said he will issue an Executive Order on the FOI, but Poe rebutted, asking, “Why we should believe that you will support the FOI when you did not answer our questions (on corruption allegations) in the Senate?”
Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said he will end corruption in the government.
Poe said she would push for stronger FOI bill that would pin down the corrupt officials in the government.
Instead of answering question on corruption, Binay went to attack Poe over the senator’s citizenship issue, saying, “How you can be a true Filipino when you take oath as American.”
”Ilang milyong overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and nasa ibang bansa ngayon, pero di nawala ang pagmamahal nila sa bayan. Ikaw, number one na nagsasabi na pino-protektahan mo ang OFWs. Pero sinasabi mo na ang naninirahan sa ibang bansa, hindi na pwedeng manungkulan? Hindi porke’t umalis ng bansa, nanirahan sa ibang bansa, ay ikinahiya mo na ang pagiging Pilipino,” Poe told Binay in defense.
”Mas mabuti nang umalis ka at nagtrabaho nang marangal, kaysa nanitili ka sa bansa, pero nangulimbat ka,” Poe added.
”Kung magbintang ka, akala mo nahatulan na ako,” Binay answered.
Poe clarified that she is not saying Binay is corrupt.
”Ikaw ba ýung sinasabi kong nangulimbat ng pera? Naniniwala ako sa due process,” she said.
Poe, who arrived at UP Cebu a few minutes before the start of the presidential debates, said she felt nervous but she came prepared by visiting some areas in the Visayas to know the issues confronting the people in the region.
In the morning of Sunday, Poe attended Palm Sunday Mass at the St. Therese of the Child Jesus Parish.
Except for Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, all the presidential candidates joined the second presidential debates.
Santiago has decided to skip the Visayas debate due to health reason but her supporters were present in UP Cebu.
The UP Performing Arts Hall was filled mostly with supporters of the candidates and members of the local media, leaving most members of the national media to be contented in monitoring the debates through TV monitors at the media center.
Some journalists who are billeted at the Waterfront Hotels and Casino, were provided with a projector at the Caribbean function room to watch the debates being aired by media partner ABC-5.
Waterfront Hotel is owned by the Gatchalian family of Galing at Puso senatorial candidate Sherwin Gatchalian.
Outside the hall, bleachers and a huge LED screen were set up to accommodate the thousands of eager students who watched the event live.
Designated places were also arranged at the high school grounds for respective supporters of the candidates who took part in the debate.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) Central Visayas Office fielded 700 law enforcers around the UP Campus to maintain order.
The over one-hour delay in the start of the debates angered the netizens, blaming it on Binay who protested the rules prohibiting the bringing of notes.(PNA report by Jelly Musico)