Otso Diretso dares Hugpong bets to debate on People Power anniversary

Mara Cepeda
Otso Diretso bet Chel Diokno tells Hugpong counterparts: See you 12 noon, February 25, in Plaza Miranda

CHELFIE. Otso Diretso senatorial candidate Chel Diokno poses for a selfie in Cebu City. Photo by Mara Cepeda/Rappler

BACOLOD, Philippines – The opposition senatorial candidates of Otso Diretso challenged their opponents in Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP)  to a debate on the anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution.

Otso Diretso senatorial candidate and human rights lawyer Chel Diokno thanked HNP for accepting their challenge on Thursday, February 21. 

Salamat sa HNP sa pagsang-ayon na dalhin sa mga mamamayan ang ating prinsipyo, paniniwala, at mga hangarin para sa kanila. Malaki ang maitutulong niyan sa pagdedesisyon ng ating mga botante. Ito ang mungkahi namin: Plaza Miranda, ika-12 ng tanghali, Lunes, ika-25 ng Pebrero,” said Diokno in a statement.

(Thank you HNP for agreeing to present to the people our principles, beliefs, and platforms for them. This would help a lot in the decision-making of voters. Here’s my suggestion: Plaza Miranda, 12 pm, Monday, February 25.)

February 25 is an interesting pick for Otso Diretso’s debate with HNP, as it is the anniversary of the bloodless revolution that toppled the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos from power in 1986.

Diokno is the son of ex-senator Jose “Pepe” Diokno, who is regarded as a stalwart of the human rights movement in the country and was a staunch critic of Marcos’ iron-fist rule. 

HNP counts among its senatorial bets the late dictator’s daughter Imee Marcos, who is the incumbent Ilocos Norte governor.

The Otso Diretso bets earlier challenged their HNP counterparts to debate. Presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte then said the senatorial candidates being endorsed by her regional party are “willing” to debate the opposition on issues. 

Like Diokno, Otso Diretso candidate and former solicitor general Florin Hilbay thanked Duterte for accepting their challenge to debate.

Ang paghaharap ng oposisyon at administrasyon sa isang makabuluhang diskurso ay mahalagang obligasyon sa bayan, upang matiyak ng mga botante na tama ang ihahalal nilang mga kandidato ngayong eleksyon,” said Hilbay.

(The face-off of the opposition and the administration in a meaningful discourse is an important obligation to the country, so voters can ensure they will vote for the right people in the election.)

Marawi civic leader Samira Gutoc said having a debate between Otso Diretso and HNP would give voters a chance to scrutinize the candidates.

Mahalaga po ngayon na bumoto ang ating mga kababayan hindi lang dahil artista o kayang gumastos ng isang kandidato, kundi ayon sa kakayahan at prinsipyo nito,” said Gutoc.

(It’s crucial for our countrymen to vote not because a candidate is an actor or has the resources to spend, but based on his or her capabilities and principles.)

As administration-allied bets, HNP’s senatorial lineup have more resources and machinery in their arsenal compared to the Otso Diretso slate, most of whom are lagging behind in pre-election surveys so far. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.