In their final face-off before elections, presidential bets Jejomar Binay, Miriam Defensor Santiago, Rodrigo Duterte, Grace Poe, and Mar Roxas face-off on thorny issues.
How did the candidates fare in the homestretch?
Bea Cupin reports.
BEA CUPIN, REPORTING: Pangasinan, a province with 1.7 million voters, plays host to the 3rd and last Commission on Elections presidential debate here in Dagupan City.
It’s a debate that comes at a crucial time for the 5 presidential candidates. Recent polls show Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte inching further away from the pack.
According to the latest survey, Duterte has a 12 point lead over his closest rival, Senator Grace Poe.
Poe, Vice President Jejomar Binay, Liberal Party standard-bearer Mar Roxas, and Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago only have two weeks left to convince voters they are the right choice.
Duterte addresses controversies against him from the get-go but his rivals don't seem to be keen on hitting him unlike in past debates.
Verbal tussles are unavoidable of course, as Roxas dares Duterte to wave the white flag should he prove him wrong.
MAR ROXAS, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Ito ang hamon ko, simpleng-simple. Sinabi ko ito, sinabi niya oo. May mapapakita ako. Aktwal, nakavideo ng mga taong natulungan ng Philhealth sa Davao City. Libu-libo po yan. Sinabi nya aatras siya, tignan natin kung tutuparin niya ang sinabi niya.
(I challenge you, very simple. He said this, I said this, yes, I can show something, actual, caught on video. People who were given assistance by Philhealth – Thousands of them. He says he will back out, let's see if he will make good on his promise.)
RODRIGO DUTERTE, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Alam mo Mar, nakikinig ang buong Pilipinas sa gobyerno araw araw. Si Secretary Roxas naman, di magpapaiwan. Ngayon, kung totoo talaga ang sinasabi mo at naniwala ang Pilipino sa iyo, dapat ikaw ang maging presidente, eh bakit ka huli sa ratings?
(You know Mar, the whole Philippines listens to the government day in, day out, and Secretary Roxas will not be outdone. Now if what you're saying is true and the Filipinos believe you that you should become president, then why are you falling behind in the ratings game?)
But what makes this presidential debate different from the previous editions is the source of the questions — representatives from the country's most vulnerable sectors.
Bets also answer questions about the West Philippine Sea, Metro traffic, contractualization, OFWs, Mindanao peace, education, and health care.
Ultimately, these are the questions -- the most basic, the most simple -- that presidents lose sleep over.
But which promise will voters ultimately go for? Will it be Duterte’s change, Binay’s decisiveness, Poe’s inclusivity, Roxas’ continuity, or Miriam’s competence?
Fifteen days. That’s all candidates have left before Filipinos cast their vote on May 9.
Bea Cupin, Rappler, Pangasinan. – Rappler.com