Jinggoy Estrada scoffs at senatorial debates: Sa Senado na lang magdebate

MANILA, Philippines – Jinggoy Estrada, a plunder defendant seeking a return to the Senate, thumbed down senatorial debates and fora, saying the “true” debate can happen after the May elections, when the Senate begins their session.

“Ang tunay na debate nasa plenaryo ng Senado, hindi 'yung mga deba-debate sa telebisyon,” he said on Tuesday, March 5, during a Hugpong ng Pagbabago campaign rally in Antipolo City.

(The real debate will take place in the Senate plenary session, not the debates on television.)

Estrada is yet to participate in any debate or forum organized by media, academic institutions, or other groups. These events are held to help voters get a better idea of the stances of candidates on issues of public interest, or their platforms and advocacies.

Estrada belittled the opposition slate, Otso Diretso, for challenging HNP candidates to a debate. 

Itong mga katunggali namin, 'kala mo [ang] gagaling eh. Naghahamon pa ng debate. Diyos ko, hindi nga sila manalo-nalo eh,” he said.

(These opponents of ours, you’d think they are good. They are even challenging us to a debate. My god, they won’t even win.)

“Alam mo, okay ako sa debate eh. Magdebate kami sa July na, 'pag opening ng Senado, okay ako doon,” he added. 

(You know, I’m okay with debates. We can debate in July, when the Senate opens. That’s fine with me.)

‘Just for newbies’

Meanwhile, reelectionist senator Sonny Angara said senatorial debates and fora are mostly for candidates joining the Senate race for the first time. Old names like him, he said, don’t have as much a need for joining such events.

“In the case of reelectionists, many are well-known already to the public and many are aware of the work. They’ve seen them work in congressional, legislative investigations, they get a lot of exposure on media, they are asked the tough questions already on radio and television so these ones are more for the newbies, in a sense, yung hindi masyadong kilala (those who aren’t well-known),” said the lawmaker.

Angara says he has joined 3 debates so far – dzBB, dzMM, and ANC debates to be exact. But he realized he does not need to entertain all debate invitations.

Ako (Me) I have the luxury of being more selective this time unlike in 2013 where naghahabol tayo (we were trying to keep up). Ngayon (Now), we can pick the ones where we think we’ll have the chance of explaining our platform to the people,” he said.

HNP campaign manager Sara Duterte has said she has no say on whether or not HNP candidates will join debates. As to the Otso Diretso challenge, she said some HNP bets might be willing if the debate is organized by a 3rd party like the Commission on Elections. – Rappler.com

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.

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