VIGAN CITY, Philippines — The opposition insists they are prepared for debates but with less than a month left until Election Day, going head to head with Team PNoy candidates seems unlikely due to tight campaign schedules.
Vice President Jejomar Binay, one of the leaders of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), said that while they had no worries over a possible face-off between their candidates and those of the Liberal Party-led coalition, they had to “consider our schedule. I cannot outright tell you that we will be attending.”
“We are prepared. [We see] no problem [with engaging them in a debate],” he told reporters in an interview in Vigan City on Saturday.
“But we have schedules to follow. I am not saying that such a debate would not be good exposure for our candidates but these things can sometimes be scheduled on short notice,” he added.
There have been renewed calls for candidates of the rival coalitions to go against each other in a debate but Cagayan Representative Jack Enrile said that such debates would only be fair if candidates were given 15 minutes to answer questions thrown at them.
He said that debates which allow candidates a minute to explain was “asking too much. Why don’t we allow 15 minutes of free airtime and make it the same for each and everyone?”
“We are prepared at any time [for debates]—we can even debate in the streets,” maintained Enrile.
Former senator Ernesto Maceda saw the calls for debates as being “too late” as they were just weeks away from the close of the campaign period.
“I think it is too late. I have already attended four forums and they ask the same questions. What else do we have to debate about? It is too late,” he said.
For Nancy Binay, who turned down Team PNoy candidate Risa Hontiveros’ challenge for a debate, having less funding for television and radio advertisements made the opposition’s schedule tight and offered little time for debates.
“We don’t have the same resources that they have. If they can go back and forth to provinces, we take commercial flights, we have no helicopters or planes at our disposal,” she said.
The young Binay said they had to tough it out and travel by land in order to reach far-flung areas.
This was the case this week when UNA took its campaign to Pangasinan, La Union and Ilocos—its candidates enduring the sun to gather votes for the upcoming elections.