Senator Manny Pacquiao challenged fellow presidential candidate and frequent debate skipper Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr, to a one-on-one debate during his Cavite campaign on March 21.
"Baka nahihiya siya sa maraming aattend. Okay sa akin magdebate kaming dalawa lang," Pacquiao said. "Tingnan natin kung ano ang plataporma niya, kung ano plataporma ko."
Pacquiao added that it's Marcos Jr.'s right to turn his challenge down, but that it should be something the public should think about.
"Karapatan niya iyon. Pero ang taumbayan na ang magiisip noon kung bakit siya tatanggi at bakit hindi niya sabihin ang plataporma niya," the retired boxer said.
"Mabuti na ‘yung recorded na sinasabi ‘yung plataporma para pagdating ng panahon mahanapan natin siya," he added.
The senator suggested that he would have Marcos Jr. discuss his family's ill-gotten wealth, his tax fraud charges, and his track record in public service.
The senator's statement comes after Marcos Jr. took a jab at his rivals, saying he ran because the other candidates' COVID-19 and economic platforms were not well thought of.
"Yung nakita ko ‘yung ibang tatakbo, nakikinig ako sa kanila, sabi ko, hindi yata napag-isipan nang mabuti ‘yung kanilang sinasabing plataporma o plano para sa COVID at para sa ekonomiya,” the dictator's namesake said on March 21.
Marcos Jr. has been absent from a number of presidential debates, including the ones held by the Kapisanan ng mga Broadkaster ng Pilipinas, CNN Philippines, and the recent Commission on Elections debate. He has, however, attended the SMNI debate, which was run by FBI-wanted Apollo Quiboloy's network.
The former senator's running mate, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, has also skipped vice presidential debates.