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Rich and famous still media's priority, Leody De Guzman says of TV snub

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
Rich and famous still media's priority, Leody De Guzman says of TV snub
This January 22, 2022 screengrab from the Partido Lakas ng Masa Facebook page shows labor leader Leody De Guzman watching the "Jessica Soho Presidential Interviews"
Partido Lakas ng Mas / Facebook

MANILA, Philippines — Labor leader Leody De Guzman — presidential candidate of Partido Lakas ng Masa — said he was saddened that he was not invited to the presidential interviews on the GMA Network, an opportunity given to survey frontrunner Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. who turned it down.

The "Jessica Soho Presidential Interviews" was supposed to feature the top five aspirants in pre-election surveys, but Marcos opted out of attending. His campaign spokesperson said Marcos believes Soho, a multi-awarded journalist, is biased against his family.

Despite only four candidates granting the sit-down interviews, De Guzman was not asked to join.

“We are quite sad because we expected that an invite will be given to us because based on the [Commission on Elections] resolution, all candidates should be given equal airtime,” he told ONE News in Filipino. The Comelec will arrange official candidate debates during the campaign season, which kicks off on February 8.

De Guzman said he believes that there is democratic space in media and that election coverage is moving away from "personality politics," but the labor leader and former factory worker said "it looks like those who are famous and rich are still the priority."

In the December 2021 Pulse Asia elections survey, De Guzman ranked seventh — with 0.004% of respondents saying they will vote for him if elections would be held then — a spot below controversial retired soldier Antonio Parlade, whose name was excluded from the latest tentative list of candidates.

De Guzman said Marcos skipping the GMA interviews was a missed opportunity that was not even extended to him.

"He should have attended it because it was his chance to show his platform to the public who will be voting and answer questions to explain his side — an opportunity that was given to him and not to me," he added.

PLM arranged a Facebook stream where De Guzman watched the GMA interviews on TV and providing commentary during breaks. He also answered questions from social media users who watched the stream.

'Yes' to divorce and same-sex marriage

During the three-hour-long interviews of Soho, Vice President Leni Robredo, Sens. Ping Lacson and Manny Pacquiao, and Manila Mayor Isko Moreno were asked about their platforms as well as about issues hounding them. They were also asked to vote 'yes' or 'no' on proposed policies.

De Guzman said that unlike the other candidates, he agrees with same-sex marriage and divorce saying the concept of relationships has developed over time and that these should be recognized.

All four aspirants interviewed said no to same-sex marriage, with Lacson and Robredo qualifying their answers that they would only agree with civil union for the former, and same-sex union for the latter. The Catholic Church, which remains influential in the Philippines, is opposed to same-sex unions, with Pacquiao's running mate Rep. Lito Atienza saying he would only back it when males can get pregnant.

On the issue of divorce, Lacson and Moreno answered in the affirmative while Pacquiao and Robredo said 'no'.

De Guzman would have also voted an absolute 'no' to 100% ownership of foreigners, he said, saying he would prefer to have Filipino businessmen to grow their own industries.

On this topic, Robredo and Moreno answered yes, but the vice president qualified her answer, saying she backs it "only to open" talks about it. Pacquiao and Lacson said 'no'.

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