Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos’ visible absence in “Harapan ng Bise,” the vice presidential debates hosted by television network ABS-CBN, drew reactions from the other candidates.
Senator Alan “Peter” Cayetano rebuked Marcos again, this time for skipping the debate, saying: “Sayang wala siya dito. Tinakbo na nga nila ang pera ng bayan, ngayon, debate naman ang tinakbuhan ni Bongbong Marcos.”
During the CNN-hosted PiliPinas vice presidential debates, Cayetano had a heated exchange with Marcos about the issue of ill-gotten wealth. Bongbong Marcos, who is the son of the late dictator, has refused to apologize on behalf of his father for the human rights violations during the Martial Law years and dismissed all allegations of corruption as mere politicking, including the recent plunder charges filed against him in the Sandiganbayan for his alleged involvement in the Napoles issue.
In that debate, Cayetano told Marcos: “Can I have one minute? Or pati ‘yun nanakawin mo pa?”
Cayetano challenged Marcos to return the ill-gotten wealth believed to be amounting to 10 billion US dollars that the government is trying to recover thru the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG).
Meanwhile, the supposed debate between Senators Alan Cayetano and Antonio Trillanes IV became another opportunity to criticize Marcos. Senator Trillanes said that we must take a look at Senator Bongbong’s track record in the public office.
''Sa akin, tanggalin na lang natin yung pagiging anak niya ng isang dictator. Tingnan na lang natin si Bongbong Marcos as a senator. Ano ba ang nagawa niya sa inyo? Ano ba ang nagawa niya the past 6 years bilang senador? Kahit doon na lang natin siya husgahan dun sa pagkatao niya,” he said.
Senator Bongbong Marcos skipped the debate and instead celebrated his wedding anniversary with his wife Liza Araneta-Marcos.
READ ALSO: Marcos absent in ABS CBN debate; still talked about by rivals
In an interview with ABS-CBN News prior to the debate, Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero said that it was Marcos' loss not to attend the debate. “Kawalan niya iyon. Para sa aming mga kandidatong independent na walang pera, kulang ang pagkakataon at pambayad sa advertisement, malaking bagay para sa aming mabigyan ng pagkakataon na mpakinggan an gaming plataporma,” he said.
Pre-election surveys front-runner and Liberal Party bet Leni Robredo said that the voters lost an opportunity to really assess all the candidates given that not all of them attended the second televised vice presidential debate.
“Nakakalungkot. Kasi ang mga debateng ganito, pagkakataon sana para ipakita sa mga tao ang tinatayuan ng mga kandidato sa mga issues. Siyempre kung merong absent sa aming mga kasamahan, hindi kumpleto ang pag-assess ng tao kasi kulang. Mahalaga ito para sa ating mga botante,” said Robredo.
Robredo was the only vice presidential candidate who attended the forum organized by the Rotary Club of the Philippines held on Saturday (April 16) at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza Hotel in Pasay City.
Also absent in the televised vice presidential debate is Senator Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan who said he had prior commitments. Honosan has been trailing in the pre-election surveys together with Senator Trillanes.
Netizens who have mix reactions towards Marcos' absence in the debate have also taken on Twitter. Here are some of them: