By Ria Fernandez
Otso Diretso senatorial bets dared anew the candidates of the Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HnP) to a debate after the latter failed to show up at Plaza Miranda in Quiapo, Manila on the 33rd anniversary of the People Power Revolution on Monday.
Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano, former Quezon Rep. Erin Tañada, ex-Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, election lawyer Romulo Macalintal, and human rights lawyer Chel Diokno positioned themselves in front of the Quiapo Church at noon as they waited for the arrival of their administration rivals.
However, none from HnP showed up.
“Medyo nalulungkot kami na pagkatapos tanggapin ang hamon sa isang debate dito sa isang makasaysayang lugar tulad ng Plaza Miranda ay parang nakatalikod ang ating kalaban, parang nakatalikod yung mga kandidato ng pamahalan (We are somehow saddened by the fact that they accepted the challenge for a debate at a historic place like the Plaza Miranda yet our rivals, the candidates of the government, seemed to have turned their backs on us),” Hilbay said.
Still determined to face their political opponents, the Otso Diretso bets threw the ball at the HnP candidates in setting the date and place for the debate.
“Sila na magtakda kung anong araw, anong lugar at kami po ay pupunta (We are letting them set the date and place [for the debate] and we will go),” Tañada said.
“Kung kinakailangan naming i-cancel ang aming mga appointment para matuloy lang ito ica-cancel naming (If we need to cancel our appointments for this debate to push thru, we will cancel them),” Macalintal said.
Macalintal clarified that the debate that they are seeking is not a form of negative campaigning.
“Ang negative campaigning ay yung binabatikos din natin ang kanilang qualification. Dito gusto natin linawin. Positive nga ito e para malaman natin ano ang kanilang qualification at namin
(Negative campaigning refers to criticizing the qualifications of the other party. We want to clarify. This is actually a positive one as we will know their qualifications and ours too),” he said.
Diokno and Alejano said they wanted to face the senatorial candidates endorsed by the administration for voters to know their stands on key issues.
“Kami po ay naniniwala na ang pangangampanya para sa Senado ay hindi labanan ng tarpaulin dahil hindi naman tayo gagawa ng tarp sa senado. Ang pangangampanya sa Senado ay para malaman kung sino ang may track record, may paninindigan, at may kakayahan na maging Senador (We believe that campaigning for a Senate seat is not a fight of tarpaulins as we will not be creating tarps at the Senate. The purpose of campaigning for a Senate seat is to show who has the track record, conviction, and capability to be a Senator),” Diokno said.
“Importante na makita yung background mo kung meron kang kamalian o polisiyang tinatayuan na
hindi makakabuti sa taumbayan…example ay ang panghihimasok ng Tsina at extrajudicial killings (It is important to see your background, if there is something wrong or if you stand by a policy that is not good for the people… examples are the interference of China and extrajudicial killings,” Alejano said.
The HnP sent word about their unavailability because of the back-to-back sortie with Presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio in Bulacan and Valenzuela City on Monday.
Last week, President Duterte said administration candidates are open to debates.