CEBU City: IT may have been delayed by at least two hours, but the much anticipated second leg of the presidential debate organized by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) did not disappoint the public as four presidential candidates engaged in fierce arguments.
One of the highlights of the event was the exchanges between Sen. Grace Poe and Vice President Jejomar Binay on the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill.
Poe was responding to the question of one of the panelists about the failure of the Aquino administration to pass the FOI bill and who among the presidential candidates she thinks would also block the passage of such measure.
The senator said the Senate passed its version of the FOI, which she authored, but a similar measure got stuck at the House of Representatives because of failure of the administration to make it a priority.
Binay seconded Poe’s statement and vowed to issue an executive order on FOI if he is elected President.
Poe, however, expressed serious doubts on Binay’s sincerity, noting that he even refused to face the Senate investigation on corruption allegation against him.
“Paano naman kami maniniwala na susuportahan ninyo ang tunay na freedom of information [How can we believe that you will support true freedom of information]?” she said.
Binay attempted to turn the tables on Poe by reminding her on the issue surrounding her citizenship.
“When you took your oath, ikinahiya mo ang pinanggalingan mo [you were ashamed of who you are],” he said.
Poe rejected Binay’s claims, noting that there are more than 10 million Filipinos living in other countries.
“They may have decided to live in other countries but their love for the country remains,” she told the Vice President.
“Nandito ka nga nakatira sa bansa pero nangulimbat ka naman ng pera [Yes, you live here but you stole money],” Poe said, drawing cheers from the crowd.
The United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) said the second presidential debate was delayed by more than an hour because Liberal Party (LP) standard- bearer Manuel “Mar” Roxas wanted last-minute changes in the rules.
“We got information that Roxas wanted to change agreements made in several meetings attended by his representative, Barry Gutierrez. Mr. Gutierrez was seen by those in the venue approaching Comelec Chairman [Andres] Bautista and then talking to both the Comelec and Patrick Paez of TV5,” Joey Salgado, a top media official of the Binay camp, said.
“What I know is that based on the agreements, candidates are allowed to bring documents with them,” he added.
Salgado said TV5 assured the Vice President that he can bring documents.
UNA said Binay would have used the documents to disprove the allegations against him.
But the LP blamed Binay for the delay, saying the Vice President wanted to bring notes to the stage, an act not allowed by the rules.
“Candidates are not allowed to bring notes [to the]stage. Vice President Binay wants to be exempted from this rule, [he wants to bring those notes]and his handlers are talking to TV5 and Comelec,” Gutierrez said in a statement.
JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA, REINA TOLENTINO AND LLANESCA PANTI