MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Last week ended with a bang on Sunday, April 10, as vice presidential candidates squared off for the first time in an intense debate that bruised the front runner in the race, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.
For months able to dodge or wing his way out of the hard questions about his father’s strongman rule, Senator Marcos was booed before he could even finish his opening statement, was attacked ferociously by survey laggard Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, and made a slip – in an image that has now gone viral – of flashing the Yes sign in response to the question: Have you engaged in any corrupt activity?
Netizens favored Cayetano, round per round, during the debate, but in the end chose unflustered Leni Robredo as the overall winner.
Rappler editors chose Cayetano for his overall impact and crafty framing of a key issue in this race: the rise of a dictator’s son to within a heartbeat away from the vice presidency.
Strongman with a heart
On Monday, April 11, a day after the debate, the Social Weather Stations released the results of its March 30-April 2 survey on presidential choices, with Duterte leading the pack for the first time.
Political analysts weighed in on why the two controversial political personalities, Duterte and Marcos, attract a significant number of the voting population.
Communications expert Clarissa David noted how the two have been harping on peace and order as their main platform. Crime is the biggest problem today, she said, in the same way that anti-corruption was the main theme that fuelled support for Benigno Aquino III when he successfully ran for president in 2010.
Sociologist Jayeel Cornelio cited the fact that the bulk of Duterte and Marcos’ supporters are 35 years and above – those who are old enough to have either experienced martial law or consider it an issue close to their hearts. (READ: How Bongbong Marcos mirrors father's image in campaign)
What’s beginning to appeal to voters, he added, is strongman leadership combined with empathy, which they don’t see in the standard-bearer of the administration, Manuel “Mar” Roxas II.
Poe, justices, and her ex-soldier husband
File photo by Jazmin Dulay/Rappler
The Supreme Court declared with finality over the weekend that its earlier decision allowing Grace Poe to run for president stays. But that’s not the story.
The final verdict was issued in a “minute resolution,” barely two pages that nonetheless prompted its two most senior justices, Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, to draft their own separate opinions – with Sereno concurring and Carpio dissenting.
Sereno wrote: “Some of them may believe that a minute resolution will not do justice to the motions, but that is their view, and that view remains a dissenting view.” Simply put, she said: “We are 7, you are 5. Seven is a majority in a group of 12. It is time that this reality be accepted.”
Carpio shot back with his own math. For him, the votes of all justices who actually took part in the deliberations and voted on the issues should be counted. This means for Carpio, the votes of all 15 justices should be counted in determining the majority. The majority, in this case, is 8 justices, not Sereno’s 7.
Still in relation to the citizenship issue hounding her, Poe for the first time since the campaign spoke about her husband being once an American soldier with the United States Air Force. Her admission came after an online report about this little known fact on the US military stint of husband Teodoro Misael Daniel “Neil” Llamanzares.
She said she never hid this fact, citing an interview where she mentioned it, which was published barely 3 years ago, in 2013.
OFW vote: Game changers?
The overseas absent voting began last Saturday, April 9, and will end on May 9, 2016. Over a million Overseas Filipino Workers have registered to vote.
They could be game changers. The number of registered OFW voters for the May 2016 polls now stands at 1.38 million – the biggest in history. (READ: Where presidential bets stand on OFW issues)
Of the total number of overseas voters, 1.12 million voters in 30 posts will vote using machines, while 183 voters in 52 posts will vote manually, government officials said. Voting in war-torn Baghdad, Damascus, and Tripoli were suspended in the wake of government’s order for a mandatory evacuation of Filipinos there. (READ: OAV: Where and how to vote)
4 senatorial bets face AMA students
Photo by Rob Reyes/Rappler
Four senatorial candidates faced thousands of students at Rappler’s first senatorial debate on April 8 at the AMA University in Quezon City.
They were asked questions on various issues. Asked on how they would push for their promises and advocacies if the next president is not an ally of their political parties, they offered insights. Lawyer Levi Baligod and former Manila councilor Greco Belgica are independent senatorial aspirants. Former energy secretary Jericho Petilla is running under the ruling Liberal Party, which has former interior secretary Manuel Roxas II as its standard-bearer. Lawyer Lorna Kapunan is running under the Partido Galing at Puso of presidential candidate Senator Grace Poe.
Essentially they said their advocacies go beyond politics and personalities.
Also in relation to Rappler and the elections, the Supreme Court on April 5 granted the petition of Rappler for websites to be able to livestream the Commission on Elections-organized presidential and vice presidential debates. – Rappler.com
Glenda Gloria is the managing editor of Rappler and one of its co-founders. A journalist for three decades now, Glenda has been a reporter for newspapers, magazines, and wire agencies, and has run print, online, and TV newsrooms. She is a Nieman Fellow at Harvard, Class 2018 .