Bongbong gets hit despite absence at debate

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – Although Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. was a no-show at another vice presidential debate yesterday, he was not spared from the tirades of his rivals, who repeatedly talked about his family’s ill-gotten wealth.

Unlike the debate held on April 10, there were no heated discussions among the four candidates who attended yesterday’s event namely, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, Sen. Francis Escudero, Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo and Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV.

Marcos and Sen. Gringo Honasan skipped the Harapan sa Bise debate,  organized by television network ABS-CBN.

During the face-off segment, which allowed candidates to ask questions to one another, the vice presidential bets trained their guns on Marcos, who is performing strongly in surveys despite campaign efforts against him.

Robredo asked Cayetano what was on his mind when he criticized the human rights abuses committed during martial law even if he and Marcos belong to the same party.

Cayetano replied: Sayang wala siya dito. Tinakbo na nga nila ang pera ng bayan. Ngayon debate naman ang tinakbuhan nila (Unfortunately, Sen. Marcos is not here. They ran away with the people’s money, now they are running away from the debate).

“I’ve been consistent from EDSA 1. I’m willing to debate anytime. I told Sen. Bongbong if I am wrong, I will withdraw (from the race). If he is wrong, he should withdraw and return the $10 billion they stole,” he added.

Cayetano and Marcos are members of the Nacionalista Party. Marcos’ father, the late president Ferdinand Marcos Jr., declared martial law supposedly to address the security threats in the country.

He said ill-gotten wealth should not be used to bankroll election campaigns.

“Imagine if 20 years from now Mikey Arroyo or the daughter of (pork barrel scam suspect Janet) Napoles runs for office. Should we allow them to use our money?” the senator said in Filipino.

When it was time for him to throw a question, Cayetano asked Trillanes: “How do you feel that some are saying that Marcos is anti-graft?”

Trillanes replied: “I take offense. But let us remove his being the son of a dictator. Let us look at him as a senator.”

When asked by Cayetano if he is willing to engage in a debate on the issue, Trillanes replied “Yes.”

Cayetano also criticized Escudero’s statement that “no building has been built by bickering.”

He said the money stolen by people he criticized, including Marcos and former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, would have funded the construction of buildings.

Escudero responded by saying that while he did not criticize Marcos, he pushed for measures that would prevent the repeat of the abuses during martial law.

“I am not combative but I can fight. I passed the Anti-Torture Law,” Escudero said.             

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