April 11, 2016, 3:27p.m. – SIX CANDIDATES for vice president clashed over corruption and political dynasties in a debate at UST that analysts said was more substantial than the two earlier presidential debates.

Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano came out swinging against frontrunner Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., claiming the latter’s family stole $10 billion during the two-decade regime of dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Camarines Sur Rep. Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo hit Sen. Francis Escudeo over pork barrel funds and the freedom of information bill, while Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV scored Sen. Gregorio Honasan II for running under Vice President Jejomar Binay, who is hounded by corruption charges.

Two candidates reversed earlier positions favoring same-sex marriage—Robredo and Marcos. All were in favor of holding telcos to account for poor service and reducing income taxes on wage earners.

The debate at the UST Quadricentennial Pavilion ran an hour longer than expected, stretching from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. It was divided into eight segments, with questions to the candidates coming from the moderators, panelists and members of the audience.

Other topics were human rights, peace and order, traffic and other urban problems, foreign policy, and the role of the vice president.


‘Not a spare tire’

The vice presidential bets rejected the idea that the position they are running for is just a “spare tire” to the president. They were asked what cabinet position they would like to have. Escudero said he would leave it up to his running mate, Sen. Grace Poe.

Nacionalista senator Marcos, who is running with the cancer-stricken Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago of the People’s Reform Party, said he would like to be secretary of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to fight unfair labor practices such as contractualization. “Sa pamumuno ng DOLE, titiyakin ko ang proteksiyon ng mga manggagawa,” Marcos said.

Robredo, who is running with Liberal Party standard-bearer Manuel Roxas II, said she wanted to oversee the government’s anti-poverty programs. Honasan, who is under the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), compared the No. 2 post to that of an airplane co-pilot.

Trillanes, an independent, expressed interest in leading the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG). “Nais ko po sanang maging DILG secretary para matutukan ang peace and order ng bansa.”

For his part, Cayetano, also a Nacionalista and the running mate of Davao City mayor and PDP-Laban bet Rodrigo Duterte, said: “I do not need a cabinet position. Just put me in a position to make sure our platforms are carried out,” he said.



The debate was heated, with Trillanes taking Cayetano to task for promising to eradicate crimes in six months when it was not done in Davao City and Taguig, the Cayetano bailiwick. “Huwag na tayong magbolahan dito (Let’s not kid ourselves here),” Trillanes, a former navy officer and coup leader, said.

Robredo pounded on Escudero for promising to remove public officials’ discretion over government dealings, saying the latter used his pork barrel funds. Escudero replied that he did not receive pork barrel money for nine years as an oppositionist during the term of President Arroyo.

In another instance, Robredo said her “supply-driven” version of the freedom of information bill was better than the Senate’s. Escudero retorted that his version of the bill was also supply-driven as it would require government offices to post documents online. The difference, he said, was that unlike in the House, the Senate had passed his bill.

Honasan said he would fight “trial by publicity” and accused some members of the media of corruption and making judicial processes “almost irrelevant.”

Marcos was repeatedly jeered by some members of the rowdy crowd throughout the debate. During his opening speech, Marcos was interrupted by hecklers, who were escorted out of the venue.

Before the debate started, anti-Marcos protesters gathered in front of the España gate to express opposition to the younger Marcos’ bid for the vice presidency.

Commenting on a corruption case involving pork barrel that he himself was facing, Marcos said he had expected the Aquino government to run after him, borrowing a quote from a Youtube video of Roxas in the aftermath of Typhoon “Yolanda”: “Remember I am a Marcos and the president is an Aquino.”

UNA standard-bearer Vice President Jejomar Binay and dismissed Makati mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay were in attendance to support Honasan. Actress Heart Evangelista accompanied her husband, Escudero, while Marcos went with his wife Louise Araneta-Marcos and sons.

The debate was organized by the national Commission on Elections and CNN Philippines in partnership with the Kapisanan ng mga Broadkaster ng Pilipinas, Business Mirror newspaper and UST. Paul Xavier Jaehwa C. Bernardo, John Paul P. Corpuz and Monica M. Hernandez


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