Debates raised level of discourse – Bautista

Eva Visperas - The Philippine Star

DAGUPAN CITY, Philippines – The three presidential debates raised voters’ awareness and the level of discourse among the candidates, Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Andres Bautista said.

Bautista told local reporters here yesterday that people were happy and he was thankful that the electorate could focus more on the candidates’ platforms, track record and capability.

“Substantive issues were tackled. Many programs were promised, but after the elections, the winner should not renege on his or her promise as these were recorded (during the debate),” he said.

He said that if it were boxing, yesterday’s debate was the last round. 

“We are hopefully making history,” he said, adding that he hopes this would be part of the culture during elections.

Bautista added that the electorate would be able to judge the candidates based on their answers and repartee with fellow candidates, including body language.

He added that the Philippines is at par with other countries in holding political debates, with a different format appropriate for Filipinos.

“If they can do it, why can’t we?” he said.

The scorching summer heat was not a factor as supporters of presidential candidates were equally intense in showing their support as the candidates arrived for the third and final leg of the presidential debate yesterday at the University of Pangasinan-PHINMA here.

But if the degree of creating noise and attention were the barometer of “winnability,” administration candidate Manuel Roxas II would have the upper hand as his supporters, dressed in yellow shirts and waving yellow flaglets, showered him with yellow confetti near a business establishment in front of the debate venue.

Roxas was moved by the rousing welcome coupled with cheers and the intense beat of drums.

He went down from his vehicle, with his wife Korina, son Paolo and Pangasinan 4th District Rep. Gina de Venecia, his political ally in Pangasinan along with Dagupan City Mayor Belen Fernandez.

Roxas shook the hands of his supporters.

The rest of the presidential aspirants merely drove past their cheering supporters.

Vice presidential candidate Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, running mate of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, also went down from his vehicle and greeted his allies with handshakes and joined in the picture taking with the crowd.

Policemen were on hand to provide security and convenience to the convoy of presidential aspirants. No untoward incident was reported.

Other local officials led by Rep. Rose Marie Arenas, Leopoldo Bataoil and Marlyn Agabas and 4th District mayors turned the streets into a sea of yellow as supporters clad in yellow t-shirts chanted Mar-Leni, referring to Roxas and his running mate Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo.

De Venecia said she is doing her best to make Mar-Leni win in Pangasinan because they have the support of the silent majority.

She said Roxas deserves to win the presidency because he has the intelligence, experience and integrity to lead a government that is progressive and fair.

Arenas said they are praying to the Our Lady of Manaoag for Roxas to win the hearts and minds of people.

Bataoil said he is confident Roxas and Robredo would win because they are destined to serve the Filipino people.

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