By Hannah Torregoza
Opposition Senator Leila de Lima on Wednesday said the best way President Rodrigo Duterte can prove or disprove his favorite candidates’ qualifications is through a live and televised debate with anyone among the ‘Otso Diretso’ senatorial candidates.
De Lima said this in response to the President’s latest verbal attack against the opposition senatorial bets in the upcoming May 2019 elections, which she described as a mere “cheap stunt.”
“There is one sure way to prove or disprove Duterte’s boast, a live and televised debate between his favorites Bong Go and Tolentino, and anyone among the Otso Diretso candidates,” De Lima said.
“The only problem is, Duterte’s favored bets are content with hiding under Duterte’s skirt, too afraid to engage in any kind of debate with their opponents,” she further said.
The staunch Duterte critic pointed out that this was the kind of campaign which eventually helped him win the presidency in 2016.
“In the first place, Duterte’s own campaign in the 2016 elections was waged on pure gimmickry and uninhibited demagoguery, with no solid program of government on which to anchor his outlandish promises,” the detained senator said.
“This kind of campaign which has won him the presidency is the culprit for the directionless and chaotic governance of the country three years into his administration,” she pointed out.
“Duterte has the gall to tell Otso Diretso to go straight to hell. Well, the country is in hell right now, courtesy of Duterte’s unfulfilled promises made during his hot-air campaign for the presidency and his unstable behavior. He is using the same tricks now with his candidates, hoping to fool Filipino voters twice in a row,” the lawmaker added.
De Lima, who is currently detained at the Philippine National Police (PNP) over drug charges filed against her by allies of the President, said Duterte’s promises were the same cheap promises now being made by his senatorial candidates.
“Like empty shells when broken, they have nothing to show on how to fulfill these promises. This is the simple reason why Duterte’s candidates will never engage the Otso Diretso in any debate,” she said.
“Shame on us if we let him fool us twice. By now, we clearly know that there are no short-cuts to good government. There are no magic portals to crime-free communities in six months. There are no crazy formulas to solving poverty or ending corruption,” she stressed.
“Only demagogues lead us to believe in such things to make up for the bankruptcy of their own visions and programs,” de Lima reiterated.