Vice presidential candidate Walden Bello set off two F-bombs during CNN Philippines’ vice presidential debate at the UST Quadricentennial Pavilion (QPav) on Feb. 26, which, surprisingly, elicited some applause from a partly Dominican crowd.

The QPav, because of the pandemic, was limited to guests of the seven candidates who joined the debate, some media members, and some Dominican priests.

The first F-bomb

Asked about political dynasties in the Philippines, Bello, a socialist professor, said the Marcos and Duterte dynasties represent the “greatest evil” of the country’s political system.

The 2022 national elections feature two members of these dynasties: former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., the son of the late dictator, in the presidential race, and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, the daughter of the old man at Malacañang, a vice-presidential candidate who skipped the debate at UST.

“Do not elect these dynastic cliques coming to power,” Bello said. “Don’t vote for these dynasts.”

“And I’m really terribly sorry that Mayor Duterte is not here to face the people. She is a coward just like Bongbong Marcos is a f***ing coward.”

The Marcos-Duterte “UniTeam” tandem had decided to skip the CNN debates, which were sanctioned by no less than the Commission on Elections. The two’s absences have become a recurring theme this election season.

The second F-bomb

In his closing statement in the debate, Bello again lashed out against Marcos and Duterte, calling their tandem “the main problem” of the country.

“[Sara Duterte] was not here to reveal her programs because she has no programs for the people. All she has is this mandatory military bill,” Bello said.

“And I think that they just spat on the face of the Filipino people, telling them ‘you’re not worth my giving you our programs.’ They have no f***ing programs. So let me just end with that.”

The Rorschach test

Bello detonated his F-bombs timely, just as the country was coming off the 36th anniversary of the EDSA People Power, unarguably the biggest “F**k you, Marcos” event in history.

“I know that I said some bad words, but I feel that you agree with me that those words had to be said,” Bello said in an interview after the debate, “that Sara was a coward for not showing up, and I had to say ‘F**k you, Marcos!’”

Earlier, in October 2021, Bello famously blurted out “F**k you, Marcos!” on national television in an interview with Varsitarian assistant publications adviser Christian Esguerra, a three-word expletive of which cartoon he has proudly made his Twitter display photo.

“This is a family that has raped the country,” Bello said of the Marcoses. “It has not apologized to the country. And he (Bongbong) now wants to rape the country again. F**k you, Marcos!”

For those following the elections closely, it was not a surprise to see and hear Bello cuss on national television, though it was surprising, to say the least, for him to do it inside UST, the Pontifical, Royal, and Catholic University of the Philippines. 

But Walden Bello is not the household name for vulgar male politician Rodrigo Duterte is. In Pulse Asia’s January 2022 survey, Bello was bottom of the barrel mustering only 0.02 percent of the respondents’ votes.

A human rights activist since the Marcos dictatorship and a co-coordinator of the Anti-Martial Law Coalition, Bello is active in opposing the anti-human rights policies of the Duterte administration.

He is the running-mate of labor leader Ka Leody de Guzman, and their tandem has been lobbying for higher wages for workers and taxing the country’s richest families.

Bello has pledged that if elected, he would “vigorously pursue accountability against the Marcoses and the Dutertes for their crimes against the people, as well as put into effect his plan to take the country out of the neoliberal economic crisis it’s been stuck in since the Marcos era owing to policies imposed by the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and World Trade Organization.”

Bello’s many things, but on Saturday, he was a Rorschach test: What you thought of him and his F-bombs probably reveals as much about you as him.


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