The vice presidential round of the PiliPinas Debates 2016 spawned several memorable moments that will surely be talked about in the weeks to come.
The three-hour debate, aired over CNN Philippines and held at the University of Sto. Tomas in Manila , featured several clashes between the six VP candidatesâ??Senators Alan Peter Cayetano, Ferdinand â??Bongbongâ?? Marcos, Jr., Gregorio â??Gringoâ?? Honasan II, Francis â??Chizâ?? Escudero, Antonio Trillanes IV, and Camarines Sur Representative Leni Robredo.
The questions came from hosts Pia Hontiveros and Pinky Webb, as well as from several CNN correspondents, other journalists and viewers on social media.
MARCOS GOT HECKLED. Marcos was visibly taken aback when it was his turn to make his opening speech because several members of the crowd loudly booed him for more than a minute. The hosts had to remind the audience that hecklers would be escorted out of the venue, just so that Marcos can continue speaking. Despite this, there were still boos against Marcos whenever it was his time to speak.
MARCOS VS. CAYETANO. Sen. Bongbong Marcos got several hits from other candidates on issues regarding corruption and human rights. His most vocal opponent was Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, who engaged in fiery exchanges against Marcos throughout the debate.
Cayetano started the word war when he questioned Marcosâ??s statement that his name is still not synonymous to corruption.
â??Nagulat ho ako mga kababayan, sabi ni Senator Bongbong, wala raw bahid ang kanilang pamilya. 10 billion dollars ang nanakaw nung panahon nila. 450 blillion pesos. Nung isang linggo lang po, nagulat ako, 205 million pesos po nilagay sa Napoles na mga NGO. Pork barrel po yun ng hindi ng tatay niya, pero siya,â?? Cayetano said.
In his reply, Marcos questioned Cayetanoâ??s staggering figures.
â??Yang mga malalaking numero na nababanggit ng ating kasamahan dito ay wala namang pinanggalingan. Kayaâ??t nagtataka ako kung saan kinuha ang napakalaking numero na sinasabi niya,â?? he countered.
He also denied involvement in the pork barrel scandal.
â??Nasagot na po natin â??yan. At kung may ebidensiya man kontra sa akin, alam naman po natin, gagamitin po ng pamahalaang ito dahil you must remember, I am a Marcos and the President is an Aquino.â??
ROUND TWO. The Marcos versus Cayetano fight had a part two. In another question, Cayetano was talking about how politicians get elected into higher positions the more they are corrupt, when Marcos quipped, â??Is that how he became congressman? Is that how he became senator? Thatâ??s not how I became congressman. Itâ??s not how I became senator.â??
Cayetanoâ??s replied with a swipe about Marcosâ??s education. â??Alam kong sa Europe nag-aral si Senator Bongbong kahit peke yung diploma. Ang sinabi ko po na magiging senator ka, thatâ??s sarcasm, because it applies to many, not to all.â??
Cayetano added, â??Anong hearing sa corruption nakita niyong nag-appear ang isang Bongbong Marcos? Kahit anong isyu sa corruption, wala siya dun.â??
But Marcos answered that he did not want to appear in any of these hearings because he didn't want to take part in alleged grandstanding. He said these hearings transpired as a way for senators to engage in â??pamumulitika.â??
â??Maliwanag sa akin na ang kanilang ginagawa ay hindi anti-corruption kundi pamumulitika. Hindi ho ako sasama sa ganyang klaseng pamumulitika, na itinataya at ginagamit ang dapat na pantulong sa ating mga kababayan ang pamumulitika na kunwari ay anti-corruption, yun lamang ay itinataas lamang ang sariling bangko,â?? Marcos said.
Trillanes had to answer Marcos.
He butted in emphatically, â??Alam niyo kung hindi namin ginawa yun, si Vice President Binay sana ang magiging Presidente ng Pilipinas. Kung mahal mo ang iyong bansa, hindi mo gagawin yun. Hindi pamumulitika yun, pagmamahal sa bansa yun. Marami kaming ni-risk. Hinarass kami, binastos kami. Yun ang pinagdaanan namin sa paglaban namin kay Binay.â??
BINAY BOOS TRILLANES. Senator Antonio Trillanes alluded to Vice President Jejomar Binay when he was talking about his anti-corruption platform.
â??Sa aking paniniwala, si Vice President Binay ay nangurakot. Nobody can change that kasi â??yan po ang aking paniniwala,â?? he said.
That elicited loud boos, and CNN Philippines showed that VP Binay, who was in the audience, was one of Trillanesâ??s hecklers.
ROBREDO VS. ESCUDERO. Camarines Sur Congresswoman Leni Robredo and Sen. Chiz Escudero also got into a tussle when the topic was about anti-corruption. Both candidates mentioned that they will push for the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill when they are elected. However, Robredo mentioned that her version of the bill was stronger because it is not demand-driven.
â??Yung version po ng Senado, demand-driven. Sinasabi po na pag may request ng dokumento galing sa gobyerno, kailangang isiwalat ng gobyerno. Pero yung version ko po ng FOI, kahit walang demand obligado na dapat ang gobyerno to make public all documents,â?? she said.
Escudero, who was the principal author of the FOI bill in the Senate, had to rebut Robredoâ??s statement.
â??Hindi po totoong demand-driven yun. Sa katunayan, nakalagay ho sa aming bersyon na kailangang ilagay sa internet lahat ng transaksyon ng pamahalaan,â?? he said.
Robredo had to hit back at Escudero by asking about his personal efforts against corruption. Since Escudero had served in the Congress since 1998, what did he do with his pork barrel?
But the politician from Sorsogon denied that he received any pork barrel.
He reiterated, â??Alam niyo po, siyam na taon akong walang PDAF sa ilalim ng administrasyon ni Pangulong Arroyo, dahil lamang pinaglaban ko ang katotohanan at kalayaan ng ating halalan. Ni hindi ho isyu ang PDAF dahil sa mahabang panahon na akoâ??y kongresista, wala hong na-release sa akin na PDAF.â??
HONASAN VS. THE MEDIA. In his answer to the question on corruption, Honasan hit the Philippine media for allegedly engaging in trial by publicity.
â??Some, Iâ??m not saying most, corrupt, irresponsible elements in media, very powerful, have almost rendered our courts, our justice system irrelevant. Pag nilagay ka sa front page, headline, tapos na. Irrelevant na yung court,â?? Honasan said.
Host Pinky Webb had to clarify with Honasan if he was talking about when he made the headlines because he was connected to the pork barrel scandal.
â??Lahat,â?? Honasan said.
â??In fact, hindi pa kaso. Pag umabot sa korte haharapin ko yan. Pero yung trial by publicity lalabanan ko yan.â??
MARCOS SAYS YES TO CORRUPTION? There were several yes or no questions throughout the debate, where candidates were just asked to answer a question with a thumbs up or a thumbs down sign without any explanation. One question was for the candidates to say if they have already engaged in corruption. While the five other candidates flashed their red thumbs down signs quickly, Marcos was caught holding up a green thumbs up sign. He immediately changed it to a thumbs down sign after a second.
MARCOS APOLOGIZES? Sen. Marcos was also asked if he will apologize for any human rights abuses during the martial law regime of his late father, former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos. Sen. Marcos gave a general answer.
â??I certainly acknowledge any human rights abuse in every administration. I think it is necessary to do so, or else we will repeat the mistakes and abuses of the past,â?? he said.
He added that he himself has not been implicated to any case of abuse during his term as a politician.
â??What I can say also to you is that in my 27 years of service, there has never been any suspicion, any accusation or even any allegation made against me that there were human rights abuses or non-recognition of any civil rights in my time in government. I have said this before and I will say it again, I will apologize for any wrongdoing that I have done, any mistake that will have caused anyone any pain, any hardship. But I can only apologize for myself. I cannot apologize for anyone else,â?? he said.
Robredo talked about this apology, and about the hidden wealth of the Marcoses.
â??Yung apology, voluntarily given â??yan. Hindi natin puwedeng ipilit sa kanya. Pero yung sa akin, yung recognition na maraming kamalian in the past. Kasama dun yung hidden wealth na hindi pa rin natin nakukuha,â?? she pointed out.
But Marcos stressed that it is not possible for him to return this alleged hidden wealth.
â??I cannot give what I do not have. I do not have any knowledge of any of these things. I cannot give what I do not have,â?? he retorted.