Miriam Santiago ‘joins’ Cebu debate despite absence

Paterno Esmaquel II
Miriam Santiago ‘joins’ Cebu debate despite absence
Unlike the 4 other presidential candidates in Sunday’s debate, Miriam Defensor Santiago supports divorce

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago virtually joined the presidential debate on Sunday, March 20, despite her physical absence from the event.

Santiago, who had been diagnosed with lung cancer, skipped the debate in Cebu City because she has to try “a new, unnamed anti-cancer pill.”

Still, through her Twitter account run by her staff, Santiago weighed in on various issues raised during Sunday’s debate.

On Santiago’s Twitter account, the most striking post on Sunday was about divorce.

Unlike the 4 other presidential candidates, Santiago’s staff said she “supports divorce on two grounds: (1) the attempt on life of a spouse by the other; (2) adultery or concubinage.”

During Sunday’s debate, her 4 rivals for the presidency – Jejomar Binay, Rodrigo Duterte, Grace Poe, and Manuel Roxas II – bared their stance against divorce.

Her staff also said Santiago is “open to death penalty for drug traffickers.”

Only Poe and Duterte supported the death penalty during the debate.

Santiago backs FOI bill

On Sunday, Santiago’s staff also promoted her position on other issues.

On the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill, her staff said Santiago “interpellated on and introduced amendments to the FOI bill at the Senate to improve it.”

She also “vows to certify as urgent the FOI bill.”

On taxes, her staff said she “plans to lower the income and corporate tax ceiling to 25%.”

Her camp also said Santiago plans to create “a new department to focus on disaster risk reduction, management, and recovery.”

Santiago earlier apologized for skipping the debate on Sunday.

“I am very sorry to miss out on the debates, but it would be a disservice to the country if I forego the opportunity to get rid of my cancer completely and strengthen myself further to serve the Filipino people,” the feisty senator said. – Rappler.com

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Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.