Otso Diretso asks Comelec for debate with Hugpong ng Pagbabago

Paterno Esmaquel II
'We are one with the Comelec in empowering the electorate to make more informed choices,' says the opposition slate Otso Diretso

DEBATE CHALLENGE. Otso Diretso senatorial bets Gary Alejano, Samira Gutoc, Romulo Macalintal, and Florin Hilbay (left to right) personally file a letter requesting the Commission on Elections to mount a debate between their slate and the Duterte-allied ticket Hugpong ng Pagbabago. Photo from Otso Diretso

MANILA, Philippines – Opposition senatorial slate Otso Diretso asked the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Thursday, February 28, to facilitate a debate between them and the Duterte-allied ticket Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP).

In a letter to Comelec Chairman Sheriff Abas, Otso Diretso senatorial candidates said their request was in line with the call of HNP chairperson Sara Duterte “to find a third-party organizer for the debate.” Duterte, daughter of President Rodrigo Duterte, is the mayor of the President’s hometown Davao City.

Otso Diretso bets Romulo Macalintal, Gary Alejano, Samira Gutoc, and Florin Hilbay personally filed their letter of request at the Comelec headquarters in Intramuros, Manila, on Thursday morning. 

“The debate between the candidates of these two political groups was planned but it appears that the Hugpong ng Pagbabago would not agree unless formal rules or guidelines are set up and an independent body would facilitate or conduct the same,” Otso Diretso wrote. 

Otso Diretso said they believe in “the independence and impartiality of the Comelec in the conduct of the elections.”

“We are one with the Comelec in empowering the electorate to make more informed choices,” the opposition slate said.

Otso Diretso listed the following candidates in their list of participants in the proposed debate:

Otso Diretso candidates

1. Alejano, Gary (LP)
2. Aquino, Benigno Bam (LP)
3. Diokno, Chel (LP)
4. Gutoc, Samira (LP)
5. Hilbay, Pilo (Aksyon)
6. Macalintal, Macaromy (Independent)
7. Roxas, Mar (LP)
8. Tañada, Lorenzo Erin Tapat (LP)

Hugpong ng Pagbabago candidates

1. Angara, Edgardo Sonny (LDP)
2. Bong Revilla, Ramon Jr (Lakas)
3. Cayetano, Pia (NP)
4. Dela Rosa, Bato (PDP-Laban)
5. Ejercito Estrada, JV (NPC)
6. Estrada, Jinggoy (PMP)
7. Go, Bong Go (PDP-Laban)
8. Mangudadatu, Dong (PDP-Laban)
9. Manicad, Jiggy (Independent)
10. Marcos, Imee (NP)
11. Pimentel, Koko (PDP-Laban)
12. Tolentino, Francis (PDP-Laban)
13. Villar, Cynthia (NP)

Otso Diretso proposed the following topics for the debate, and said HNP can add their own suggestions as well: 

  • foreign incursions in Philippine waters
  • influx of foreign labor as many Filipinos remain unemployed
  • the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion law
  • the rise in unsolved murders across the Philippines
  • lowering of the minimum age of criminal responsibility
  • corruption and cronyism

Otso Diretso earlier challenged HNP to a debate in Manila on Monday, February 25, but the administration candidates did not show up. Duterte said HNP is not keen on a “palengke-style” (wet market-style) debate challenge. – Rappler.com

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.