CEBU CITY: IT was delayed for 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 candidates showed up prepared to face each other on fierce arguments.
One of highlights of the event, held at the University of the Philippines in this city in central Philippines, was the exchanges between independent candidate Sen. Grace Poe and Vice President Jejomar Binay, standard-bearer of the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), on the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill.
Poe was responding to a question of one of the panelists about the failure of the administration to pass the FOI bill and who among the presidential candidates she thinks would also block the passage of such measure.
She said the Senate of the 16th Congress was able to pass its version of the FOI, which she authored, during the first eight months but was stuck at the House of Representatives because of the failure of the administration to make it a priority.
Binay seconded Poe’s statement on the importance of the FOI bill and even declared that he will issue an executive order on FOI bill if he is elected President, but Poe expressed serious doubts on Binay’s sincerity, noting that he even refused to face the Senate investigation on the corruption allegations against him.
“How can we believe that you will support a true freedom of information?” Poe told him in Filipino.
Binay then attempted to turn the table on Poe and reminded the senator about the issue surrounding her citizenship – that she renounced her being a Filipino when she decided to be an American citizen several years ago.
“When you took your oath, ikinahiya mo ang pinanggalingan mo (you were ashamed of your beginnings),” Binay said.
Poe rejected this, noting that there are more than 10 million Filipinos living in different parts of the world, and the country even enacted a dual-citizenship law in recognition of those who would want to be citizens of another country of their choice besides their country of birth.
“They may have decided to live in other countries but their love for the country remains,” Poe said, addressing Binay.
“You may be living here in your country, but then you embezzled,” she added in Filipino, drawing cheers from the crowd.
Binay then tried to pull a fast one on Poe by reading from a document containing Poe’s oath when she renounced her Filipino citizenship at a time that she became an American citizen.
But he was stopped by the moderator, TV5’s Luchi Cruz-Valdez, reminding him about a rule against using any document and/or notes during the debate. JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA