Hontiveros: Let’s debate; Binay: Not now

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Former Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros said she was ready to face rival senatorial candidate Nancy Binay in a public debate “anytime, anywhere.”

Hontiveros hurled the challenge when asked to comment on a circulating Internet meme “Anyare” (slang for “anong nangyari?” or “what happened?), which compared the qualifications of Binay and Hontiveros.

Hontiveros stressed that she and her allied groups, Akbayan and the Liberal Party, had no hand in the Internet meme, which attacked Binay for her apparent lack of experience for a Senate seat outside of her being the eldest daughter and personal assistant of Vice President Jejomar Binay.

“I don’t know (if it’s) progapaganda against Ms. Nancy. All I know is this came from the public, this did not come from our parties,” said Hontiveros in a Team PNoy press conference at its Makati headquarters.

“I am not challenging her. I am saying I am prepared for this kind of challenge by the citizens. I would really welcome it if she would accept this challenge because the time for debate is now,” said Hontiveros, who suggested a third party set up the showdown.

Do it on Senate floor

When asked for a response, Binay, who ranks 6th in the surveys, had a quick answer to 18th-ranked Hontiveros: “Let’s win the Senate race first, then we can debate on the Senate floor.”

According to Binay, there was no more time for her and Hontiveros to engage in a debate with a little over a month to go before the elections.

“It seems there is no time for the two of us to debate. Maybe if the two of us would be fortunate to win and join the Senate, we can debate there. I think that’s the best forum for us to have the debate, on the Senate floor,” she told reporters in Navotas, where UNA candidates courted votes.

Binay said she would rather spend the remaining weeks of the campaign going directly to the people and convincing them to include her on their ballots.

“My priority now is to go around and have face to face contact with the voters,” she said.

Of the Internet meme, she said this was “par for the course when running.”

According to Binay, her family’s years of experience in public service have given her an advantage because she knows the sentiments of the people on the ground.

If all the Binays running in the elections win, there would be four members of their immediate family in public office.

Nancy Binay’s sister Abigail is running for reelection as Makati representative, while brother Jejomar Erwin Jr. is seeking to retain the Makati mayoralty post. Vice President Binay’s term will end in 2016, a presidential election year.

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