2022 PH presidential race

Robredo roasts debate absentee Marcos: A leader shows up in the most difficult times

Mara Cepeda
Robredo roasts debate absentee Marcos: A leader shows up in the most difficult times

THE MARK OF A TRUE LEADER. Vice President Leni Robredo joins CNN Philippines' presidential debate on February 27, 2022.

VP Leni Media Bureau

Vice President Leni Robredo says attending the debates indicates the candidates' respect for Filipinos whose votes they are courting

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo did not mention any names, but she still landed a knockout punch against survey frontrunner Ferdinand Marcos Jr. for snubbing the highly anticipated CNN Philippines presidential debate

Asked about the importance of debates on Sunday, February 27, Robredo said it’s not only an opportunity for candidates to present their platforms, it’s also chance for Filipinos to see the true character of the people applying to be their next president. 

And when a candidate does not show up, it’s a failure in leadership, she said.

“‘Yung number one ingredient din ng leadership, aside from character, is you show up in the most difficult times. ‘Pag hindi ka mag-show up in the most difficult times, hindi ka lider,” said Robredo. 

(The number one ingredient of leadership, aside from character, is you show up in the most difficult times. When you don’t show up in the most difficult times, you’re not a leader.)

Marcos was instead barnstorming in his stronghold Pangasinan on Sunday. He had also snubbed past presidential interviews and forums, attending only those hosted by media and groups known to be friendly to him.

The lone female presidential candidate said skipping these public debates also show a lack of respect for Filipino voters. 

“Kailangan kaya mong masagot kung ano ‘yung issues laban sa ’yo; hindi ka magtatago. Kaya para sa ’kin, ito ‘yung pagbibigay-halaga at respeto sa taumbayan na maghahalal sa’yo,” Robredo said 

(You need to be able to answer the issues against you; you shouldn’t hide from them. That’s why for me, this is about giving value and respect to the people who would electing you.)

This answer harks back to Robredo’s sizzling criticism of her male rivals during the “Political Fast Talk” portion of her interview with entertainment reporter Boy Abunda in January.  “In the difficult moments, he doesn’t show up,” Robredo said then. 

Robredo roasts debate absentee Marcos: A leader shows up in the most difficult times
Leveling the playing field

Labor leader and presidential candidate Leody de Guzman also criticized Marcos for being a no-show. 

He said debates are a good opportunity for candidates to elaborate on their platforms – which Marcos has yet to do since the official campaign period began. 

“Aba ay napakaimportante nito,” De Guzman said, referring to the debate. “Dapat nandito ‘yung isang kasama namin. Bakit hindi pumunta dito? Importante ito para malaman sana’t masabi kung ano ‘yung mga programa.”

(This is very important. One of our colleagues should have been here with us. Why didn’t he come here? This is important for us to discuss our programs.)

Manila Mayor Isko Moreno likened the presidential debates to a job applicant facing a company’s human resources department. 

“Ang mga nanood ngayon, kayo po sa mga tahanan ninyo, sa mga cell phone ninyo, kayo po ngayon ang HR department. Kami po ay aplikante sa trabaho. Gusto mo naman ba mag-hire ng isang empleyado na hindi mo nakausap, hindi mo nakita, hindi mo nalaman kung anong karanasan, anong magagawa para sa iyong kompanya?” asked Moreno.

(The people watching us today, in your homes, in your cellphones, you’re the HR department. We are the job applicants. Would you want to hire an employee you have not spoken to, you have not seen, you have not determined his experience, what he can do for your company?)

These are views shared by survey laggards Norberto Gonzales and Faisal Mangondato, who said debates give them a platform to elaborate on the ills plaguing the country and their proposed plans to address these issues. Senator Manny Pacquiao also said voters are able to see the “sincerity” of candidates during the debates.

Senator Panfilo Lacson then said there’s a level playing field during debates, as candidates are often prohibited from having tutors, scripts, or phones to help them answer questions. 

“So dito masusukat, maarok ‘yung wisdom ng bawat isa sa amin. Hindi lamang ‘yung wisdom, kung hindi iyong grasp sa mga issues, current issues, past issues,” said Lacson.

(Here, one can measure the wisdom of each candidate. Not just wisdom but our grasp on issues, current issues, past issues.)

But Lacson also complained about the limited time that CNN Philippines gave the candidates to answer the questions.

Only candidate Jose Montemayor Jr. found no value in holding debates, slamming the media network for the format of the proceedings. Still, the relatively unknown presidential bet thanked CNN Philippines for giving him a chance to introduce himself to Filipinos. – 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.