2022 PH vice presidential race

In vice presidential debate, it’s Walden Bello vs Comelec

Jairo Bolledo
In vice presidential debate, it’s Walden Bello vs Comelec

PRO-LABOR. Partido Lakas ng Masa vice presidential candidate Prof. Walden Bello during the Comelec debate at the Sofitel Hotel in Pasay City.

Angie de Silva/Rappler

‘They have to show up so that the Filipino people can judge. Otherwise, this is a f*cking big joke!’ Bello exclaims
In vice presidential debate, it’s Walden Bello vs Comelec

MANILA, Philippines – In the first vice presidential debate organized by the Commission on Elections (Comelec), vice presidential bet Walden Bello decided to confront the poll body over what he called “weak” penalties against debate skippers. 

In the latter part of the VP debate on Sunday, March 20, the bets were asked by moderator Ruth Cabal about the expertise they could share with the president if they win the elections. Bello decided to dodge the question, and instead rant about the absence of dictator’s son Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Sara Duterte in election debates. 

“You know what Ms. Cabal, I hesitate to answer that question because this is becoming a big joke. Sara Duterte is not with us, okay? We’re slashing one another for her benefit. I mean, the Commission on Election should do something about this,” Bello said. 

The Laban ng Masa chairperson then proceeded to confront the Comelec about the commission’s sanctions for Marcos Jr. and Duterte. 

In vice presidential debate, it’s Walden Bello vs Comelec

“We need stronger penalties for these people. Kasi ho (because) this is so undemocratic that they are not here. I’m tempted to walk out right now. You know, because precisely, we’re making fools of ourselves without this person who is just clapping up there.” 

Bello also blasted the Uniteam’s presidential and vice presidential candidates and called them “cowards”. The LNM chairperson once again dropped the f-word during the vice presidential debate organized by the Commission on Elections on Sunday, March 20. 

“No. I don’t – I mean, I’m really so pissed off that these two jokers are not here. Duwag sila (they’re cowards). And yet they are going to. You know. We can’t show their records. They have to show up so that the Filipino people can judge. Otherwise, this is a f*cking big joke!” the Partido Lakas ng Masa vice presidential bet exclaimed. 

The vice presidential bet also warned of walking out from the debate: “I’m tempted to walk out right now. You know, because precisely, we’re making fools of ourselves without this person who is just clapping up there.” 

Marcos Jr. skipped the Comelec-organized presidential debate on Saturday, while his running mate Duterte also skipped the vice presidential debate on Sunday. As a punishment for skipping debates, candidates who did not participate in the Comelec-organized debates would be denied streaming time on the poll body’s e-rally channel on Facebook.

What the Comelec has to say?

After Sunday’s vice presidential debate, Comelec chairman Saidamen Pangarungan said the poll body will discuss Bello’s concern in an en banc session. 

“Definitely, we will address this particular problem in [an] en banc session on Wednesday. You know, Comelec is [a] collegial body. Lahat ng mga important decisions ay dadaan diyan (All of the important decisions will go through that),” Pangarungan explained. 

When asked if the Comelec can issue a resolution to punish debate skippers, the Comelec chairman said it’s possible: “Yeah, that’s right. You mean resolution? Yeah, we can do that.” 

In the same interview, Comelec Commissioner George Garcia explained that there should be a law passed by the Congress before the Comelec can impose punishments on candidates. 

Nandiyan naman po ang Comelec can only implement the laws kung meron tayong pino-promulgate ng atin pong legislative department. So there should be a law. Kasi remember, kung may punishment, halimbawa, ‘yong punishment na ‘yan ay manggagaling lang sa ating legislature,” Garcia explained. 

(The Comelec is there and can only implement the laws promulgated by the legislative department. So there should be a law. Remember, if there is a punishment for example, that punishment will come from our legislature.) 

The Comelec has pointed out time and again that it has no power under the law to compel candidates to attend debates. Some election lawyers have also argued that requiring candidates to show up in debates might be deemed unconstitutional, as there are clear criteria for a person seeking the presidency.

Platforms, Duterte’s pandemic response

Aside from pointing out Comelec’s sanctions for debate skippers, Bello also reiterated their pro-labor agenda and other platforms. 

“‘Yong hinihingi namin (What we’re asking) Very strict. P750 a day minimum. ‘Yong (The) repeal [of] the rice tariffication act. Repeal ‘yong (the) automatic appropriations act. Decriminalize abortion. Legalize same sex marriage. Legalize divorce,” Bello said. 

Bello added that they’re offering a different vision for the country: “‘Yon hong mga traditional politicians, walang hong vision na ibinibigay sa atin. Kami ho ni (Traditional politicians don’t offer vision to us. Me and) Ka-Leody are offering a vision of equality, a free-of-poverty Philippines, democratic socialism.”

In vice presidential debate, it’s Walden Bello vs Comelec

The vice presidential bet also described the pandemic response of President Rodrigo Duterte as “dismal.” 

“Well, I think the performance of the Duterte Administration has been quite dismal. Alam naman natin na there have been more than 3 million infections na ‘no and 55,000 deaths (We know that there have been more than 3 million infections and 55,000 deaths),” Bello said.

He added that the approach of the Duterte government is “militaristic” and unprepared. – Rappler.com 

Jairo Bolledo

Jairo Bolledo is a multimedia reporter at Rappler covering the police, crime, military, and security.