Duterte’s preps for 1st presidential debate: Focus on time limit

Pia Ranada
Duterte’s preps for 1st presidential debate: Focus on time limit

Alecs Ongcal

The night before the 1st presidential debate, Duterte spends 5 hours in a mock debate with volunteers playing his rival candidates

MANILA, Philippines – Presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte spent around 5 hours preparing for the Commission on Elections (Comelec) presidential debate the night before the event.

“I am very excited, but I am also very nervous,” Duterte was quoted by his camp as saying in a press release sent on Sunday, February 21.

The night of Saturday, February 20, found Duterte and core members of his campaign team in Marco Polo hotel in Davao City. From 5 to 10 pm, with a dinner break in between, Duterte debated with stand-ins of the other presidential candidates.

The practice session intended to address Duterte’s self-confessed weaknesses when it comes to debates: staying within time limits and lack of knowledge on certain issues. (READ: Can Rodrigo Duterte win by being himself?)

At the start, Duterte was complaining about the time limit but he eventually rode along with it.

A speaker fond of making detours and side comments during his impromptu speeches, Duterte is not good at beating the buzzer. In previous fora, given a time limit, he would cajole the time keeper to allow him to extend.

According to a campaign team member, the practice session was made to simulate the actual debate set to take place in Cagayan de Oro on Sunday, February 21.

The set-up came complete with a digital timer visible to Duterte and lecterns for each of the debaters.

Volunteers played Manuel Roxas II, Miriam Santiago, Jejomar Binay, and Grace Poe.

In fact, the volunteer who played Poe had everyone breaking out in laughter because of her skill in mimicking Poe’s “hugot” lines.

At one point, Duterte even told her, “Ma’am, iboboto na kita. Para akong nasa sine.” (Ma’am, I will vote for you. It’s as if I’m in a movie.)

Before Saturday, Duterte had told media he was not preparing for the debate in any way and that he would depend on his stock knowledge. (READ: Duterte, Cayetano platform focuses on crime, economy)

Bahala na. Sino ba kalaban ko? (Leave it to God. Who are my rivals?) No need of preparation for them,” he joked to reporters in Batac City, Ilocos Norte, on Friday, February 19.

But in the Sunday press release, his camp quotes him as saying, “I am nervous because I know they are good.”

His camp referred to Duterte as the only Mindanaoan among the candidates and a “probinsyano” (person from the province) representing Mindanao and the provinces. – Rappler.com

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.