Otso bets: We’re obsessed with debates? Rivals just think of tarpaulins, singing, dancing
MANILA, Philippines — Otso Diretso candidates have slammed critics who said that they are obsessed with debates, saying that it is better than being obsessed with making tarpaulins or just singing and dancing during campaign sorties.
“Kung kami ay obsessed sa debate, palagay ko sila naman ay obsessed sa tarpaulin,” human rights lawyer Chel Diokno said of the administration-backed candidates during a press briefing at the Liberal Party headquarters in Cubao, Quezon City on Wednesday.
Diokno also emphasized that their jobs — if elected to Senate — would be to debate, and not to make campaign materials.
“Sandali lang, ano ba ang gagawin natin sa Senado, gagawa ba tayo ng tarpaulin doon? Gagawa tayo ng batas at pagdedebatehan natin ‘yong batas na ‘yan,” he added.
(Wait a minute, what do we tend to do at the Senate, are we going to make tarpaulins there? We are going to craft laws and we will deliberate on those laws.)
Former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay said that they are obsessed, not with the idea of debating their rivals from Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP), but with the supposed responsibility of informing people about important issues.
“Ang gusto natin ‘yong mga mamamayan ‘pag bumoto, bumoto with informed choice […] hindi kami obsessed with debate, we’re obsessed with informing the public about various issues,” Hilbay clarified.
(What we want is for our people, when they vote, they vote with informed choice… We are not obsessed with the debate, we’re obsessed with informing the public about various issues.)
“Eh sila, parang obsessed sila with song and dance. Eh hindi naman ho noontime show ‘yong tinatakbuhan namin. Ang tinatakbuhan namin ay Senado,” he said, throwing shade to the habit of HNP candidates to entertain voters who attend their campaign sorties.
(But for them, they are obsessed with the song and dance. We are not running for a noontime show. We are running for the Senate.)
Critics of the Otso Diretso on the internet have lamented their debate challenge as a mere publicity stunt intended to gain popularity. In a previous report, HNP founding chair and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio called Otso Diretso “dark, depressing, and disorganized,” and with an “obsessive disorder or fixation” on debates.
Otso Diretso bets challenged their HNP counterparts to a debate originally scheduled on February 25, but HNP candidates were unable to attend due to previous scheduled event.
The opposition slate then asked the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to facilitate the debate, but the poll body thumbed it down due to logistical reasons and time constraints.
Election lawyer Romulo Macalintal admitted that these debates give them additional media mileage, but also insisted that their challenge stems from a yearning to inform the voters about details of politicians they are rooting for.
“Itong mga press conferences, itong mga debate na ginagawa, napakalaki po talaga nito para sa amin,” Macalintal said.
“Hindi ‘yong obsession ang isyu eh. Ang isyu dyan ay kaya ba ninyo humarap sa debate? ‘Yon lang naman eh, oo o hindi? […] Kasi bahagi ho ng aming layunin ay mabigyan ng proper education ang taumbayan, ng proper right to the exercise of suffrage,” he added.
(These press conferences, these debates are really big deal for us. Obsession is not the issue, the issue here is that can you really face a debate? That’s is all there is, it is just a yes or no.) /jpv
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