MANILA, Philippines – More than 1.6 million tweets about the second presidential debate were posted from 4:30 pm to 9:30 pm on Sunday, March 20, higher than the 1.3 million tweets during the first debate last month.
#PiliPinasDebates2016 again became the top Twitter trending topic not only in the Philippines, but also worldwide.
The political showdown featured Vice President Jejomar Binay, Senator Grace Poe, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, and former interior secretary Manuel Roxas II at the University of the Philippines (UP) Cebu. Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago had begged off to join a clinical trial for an anti-cancer pill.
But even before the 4 presidential candidates took the stage – and precisely because the event started very late – Filipinos were already making their voices heard on Twitter.
Their top question: Why the delay?
Because of the flurry of tweets, user-generated hashtag #PiliPinasDeLate quickly trended nationwide.
Even the candidates took to Twitter to express their views on the delay.
We are guests here. Invited to debate. The rules are clear. We live in a society based on rules. #NoToKodigo — Mar Roxas (@MARoxas) March 20, 2016 I apologize to all our supporters for the delay as we are ready but others are not #PiliPinasDebates2016 pic.twitter.com/afgKyG0AGB — GRACE POE (@SenGracePOE) March 20, 2016 There are rules that have been agreed on. Mar Roxas insisted on changing the rules last minute. He was the one that caused the delay. — Jejomar C. Binay (@VPJojoBinay) March 20, 2016
The Twitter conversation peaked at over 16,000 tweets per minute around 6:49 pm during the heated exchange between Poe and Binay on the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill.
Among all the issues covered during the second debate, it was "freedom of information and rule of law" that registered the most interest on Twitter with 32% of the tweets.
This was followed by crime, tax reform, Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), and climate change.
#PiliPinasDebates2016 most tweeted issues from 6:23-8:10PM. FOI/Rule of law: 32% Crime: 23% Tax reform: 20% Yolanda: 12% Climate change: 11% — Rappler (@rapplerdotcom) March 20, 2016
At the start of the debate, Binay dominated the conversation. This was triggered by the notes mix-up with TV5 news chief Luchi Cruz Valdes, who initially told the Vice President that he could bring notes onstage, unaware of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) rule prohibiting this.
Duterte began leading the Twitter conversation during the second half when the candidates posed questions to each other and gave their closing statements.
#PHVoteDuterte gets most buzz on Twitter during the last leg of the #PiliPinasDebates2016. #PHVote pic.twitter.com/IpGhWtHUy7 — Rappler (@rapplerdotcom) March 20, 2016
Meanwhile, Santiago's camp used Twitter to "participate" in the debate and respond to questions real-time. In a tweet, the senator also thanked her volunteers who watched the debate in Cebu even though she wasn't there.
[STAFF] Miriam vows to certify as urgent the FOI bill. #MiriamPaRin #MIRIAM2016 Read more of Miriam's plans here: https://t.co/h7Vf5qbMqv — Miriam Santiago (@senmiriam) March 20, 2016 Thank you very much to my volunteers who watched the #PiliPinasDebates2016 in Cebu. Hugs and kisses! #MIRIAM2016 pic.twitter.com/wzitNAxJH0 — Miriam Santiago (@senmiriam) March 21, 2016
The most shared tweets included one on the hilarious way that people thought Santiago would have reacted if she were watching the second leg of the #PiliPinasDebates2016.
if miriam were watching #PilipinasDebates2016 right now pic.twitter.com/u3l0gyoDiE — Trisha Sanchez (@trishaisfunny) March 20, 2016 Poe is on point. Duterte has a point. Binay is pointless. Mar is pointangina. #PiliPinasDebates2016 — pedró (@pierreguevarraa) March 20, 2016 Mood #PiliPinasDebates2016 pic.twitter.com/qidL9QplRY — Jake Ejercito (@unoemilio) March 20, 2016 "You are claiming credit which is not yours. You are a pretentious leader" -Duterte to Mar #PiliPinasDebates2016 — Kimpoy Feliciano (@kimpoyfeliciano) March 20, 2016
Pratiksha Rao, Twitter's head for media partnerships for Southeast Asia, noted the higher level of engagement for the second debate.
"As we continue amplifying the sentiments of Filipinos over their presidential candidates, Twitter is giving each voter a voice to be heard by their fellow citizens to make a more informed voting decision," said Rao.
"The second run of the #PiliPinasDebates2016 saw a higher level of engagement and tweets than the first debate, proving that more and more Filipinos are joining the election conversation, analyzing the debates, and responding in real-time to the candidates' answers, all on Twitter," she added.
Root for your candidate during today's Presidential debate with the #PHVote hashflags! Here's how: pic.twitter.com/TisqGfukpw — Rappler (@rapplerdotcom) March 20, 2016
Data from Twitter