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LIVE UPDATES: Comelec's PiliPinas debates for VP bets

By PhilSTAR L!fe Published Mar 20, 2022 5:09 pm

Elections22

After nine presidential candidates faced each other at the Commission on Elections (Comelec)'s PiliPinas Debates on March 19, it's the vice presidential bets' turn to prove their mettle on March 20.

Seven out of nine VP bets would be attending the debates at the Sofitel Harbor Garden Tent in Pasay, namely:

  • Walden Bello
  • Rizalito David
  • Manny Lopez
  • Dr. Willie Ong
  • Kiko Pangilinan
  • Carlos Serapio
  • Tito Sotto

Lito Atienza has formally declined Comelec's invitation due to medical reasons.

Sara Duterte-Carpio would also be a no-show, just like her running mate Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.

Duterte-Carpio previously told reporters that she had "already decided" to go on with her campaign without joining debates.

The UniTeam tandem has yet to submit a formal letter to Comelec regarding their absence.

Sunday's affair will tackle domestic policy and government accountability. Comelec said it will give the candidates general topics without specific questions.

The debates will have no live audience, though it will be simulcast online and on select channels.

VP bets on addressing corruption: Bello sings Sinatra, Lopez calls for death penalty

On addressing corruption, the VP aspirants were asked whether there should be a single anti-corruption agency in the country.

For his part, Bello sang a Frank Sinatra song targeted “specifically for Sara Duterte and Bongbong Marcos."

“Where are you? Where did you go without me? I thought you cared about me? Where are you? Nasaan ka? Nasaan ang pera? Ibalik mo na ang pera. Ibalik mo na. That’s for Marcos Jr. P203 billion, you owe it to the Filipino people. Give it back,” the professor sang.

Meanwhile, David said that corruption lies within a person’s heart. “Hangga’t di natin nasasawata ang kasamaan ng mga puso natin, di titigil ang korapsyon. Kahit gawin mo pang severe ang penalties ng mahuhuli, wala parin yun. Magpapatuloy parin ang korapsyon hanggat di pa nalilinis nag puso.”

For Lopez, grafters should be penalized. “Let’s make plunder qualify for death penalty.”

Ong, on the other hand, said processes should be digitalized. 

Pangilinan remarked that the government should give more budget and invest in the judiciary branch.

“We must modernize our judiciary so that the corruption drive will be meaningful. Pano magkakaroon ng respeto sa ating batas at matatakot ang mga kurakot kung mabagal ang paglilitis at karamihan abswelto? We have to double the budget of the judiciary,” the senator said.

For his part, Serapio said there should be an “internal change” with the power structure. "Until and unless we are able to change the power structure, the monopoly of economic power and political power, then we will not be able to address this comprehensively."

"We need to really address this in totality, and this will include internal change in those who will lead the country. New wine must have new wineskin, otherwise, the new wine you poured into the old wineskin will get spoiled."

Lastly, Sotto said that those in office should “lead by example.”

“The government is too large for a single body to address corruption. What we need is internal cleansing. We must lead by example,” the Senate president began.

“If we do not digitalize, walang internal cleansing, ay tagilid. Pinakamagandang example, Bureau of Customs, di nabubuo digitalization kasi gusto nila may human intervention. Eh pag may human intervention, andun ang taga. We must digitalize.”

Six VP bets share areas of expertise, Bello uses time to rave and rant vs. Marcos Jr., Duterte-Carpio

Candidates have been asked, "Anong isyu o problema ng lipunan ang nangangailangan ng bagong polisiya o batas na irerekomenda mo sa pangulo?"

Six of them answered the question except Bello, who used the time to rave and rant against Marcos Jr. and Duterte-Carpio for skipping the debates.

"I hesitate to answer that question because this is becoming a big joke," Bello told moderator Ruth Cabral, adding that Comelec should do something more than taking away e-rally privileges.

Bello said he's also "tempted" to walk out, even dropping an F-bomb later on due to the two "jokers" that are Marcos Jr. and Duterte-Carpio.

He urged the poll body to slap them with a fine of P203 billion, the same amount as the Marcoses' unpaid estate tax.

Here are the answers of the six other VP bets:

Sotto:

Siguro, iyong DILG at Dangerous Drugs Board would be my expertise.

Dito sa problemang sinasabi ko, hindi lang pwede iyong supply reduction strategy na ginagawa ng administrasyon. Kailangan palakasin mo iyong prevention and rehabilitation, which is part of the demand reduction strategy.

David:

Environmental science. Matagal po ako sa senado, marami po akong nagawang batas, partikular sa natural resources.

Kung magkaroon po ako ng posisyon sa gabinete, babalikan ko po ang lagi nating iniiwasang tanggapin: We continuously deny that the problem of our society is moral, ethical, and spiritual. Ang nais ko ay commission na magtatalaga ng pagpapanibago at pagbabago sa ating lipunan sa pamamagitan ng moral renewal at cultural restoration.

Lopez:

Gusto ko pong bigyang tugon ang tatlong bagay: economic recovery. New omnibus investment code to improve the way we do business, a streamlined and simplified bankruptcy law, and provision for low interest loans with easy access to struggling MSMEs, farming sectors, even professionals, among others.

Ong:

Alam niyo naman, linyang-linya ko ang pandemic response. Bukod doon, meron pa tayong gustong itulong. Napakahalaga ng food security. Pero para sa akin, gusto ko dagdagan ng food safety. Gusto kong ligtas ang pagkain natin. Katulad ng mga delata sa ibang bansa, sigurado ba tayong natse-check iyan Kailangan nating palakasin ang FDA natin. Ang mga isda natin, ok ba iyan? Tsine-check ba natin ang mercury level? Very polluted ang tubig natin. Pati sa mga baboy at gulay.

Pagdating sa war on drugs, hindi ko gaano gusto iyong criminal justice approach. Pwede natin gawin iyong public health approach, lalo na sa drug user. Alam nating sakit iyan.

Pagdating sa education, bakit di makaaral ang kabataan? Kasi maraming stunted, maraming malnourished. Iyong mental health problem, gusto ko rin tutukan.

Pangilinan:

Tulong at buong suporta sa ating mga magsasaka at mangingisda. Dahil dadami ang kanilang ani, ang huli. Dadami rin ang supply sa ating merkado, bababa na ang presyo ng pagkain at mawawala na ang matinding gutom.

May mga batas na tayong naipasa. Dapat full implementation ang coco levy trust fund measure. Iyong Sagip Saka Act, direkta nang pwede bumili ang gobyerno sa magsasaka at mangingisda, wala nang pubic bidding.

Serapio:

Batay sa aking academic experience at pagtuturo ng political science at international diplomacy at engagement with different international leaders, tingin ko po ang mga karanasang ito ay nagbibigay ng sapat na kaalaman para maging isang epektibong foreign affairs secretary.

VP candidates on providing financial aid amidst rising consumer prices

The seven present VP bets were asked, “Sapat ba ang P200 financial aid kada buwan sa gitna ng tumataas na presyo ng mga bilihin? Ano pang konkretong programa ang iyong imumungkahi?”

Pangilinan:

Di sapat. Ang dapat gawin isuspend ang excise tax sa fuel at tayo ay naniniwala executive order lamang, base sa liberal interpretation ng TRAIN LAW, pwede na. Pag sinuspend mo na ang fuel excise tax, mababawasan ng P10, P6, P5 kada litro. Kaagad agad mararamdaman ng ating mga kababayan yan. Sinasabi nila P130 billion daw ang mawawala, eh P1.4 trillion naman ang hindi ginagastos so ano ang mawawala? Di totoo yun, kami ay di sang-ayon yon. 

Pangalawa, kaagad-agad na ilabas yung P500 million fuel subsidy para sa farmers at fisherfolk. Ganoon din sa transport sector, may P2.5 billion na fuel subsidy. Sinama natin ang taxi at tricycle driver diyan. At meron pang P6 billion additional fuel subsidy na unprogrammed. Kung ang gobyerno ay kumilos at hindi natutulog, makakatulong ng malaki yan. Yan ang action steps natin diyan.

Serapio:

Dito sa P200 na financial aid, totoo pong di yan sapat. Dapat po nating gawin ay di lamang napupunta sa consumption, kailangan may bahagi tayong binibigay sa production. Bigyan natin ang mga kababayan ng energy relief dahil ito ay kanilang pakikinabangan araw-araw at buwan-buwan. 

Sotto:

I must admit, totoong malaki ang problema natin sa fuel at ang P200 na binigay ay di sapat. I agree that the excise fuel should be suspended. Yung sa minimum wage na pinag uusapan, dagdagan natin. Gawin nating P1000 ang minimum wage sa NCR. Yung mga employers, siguradong may papalag, edi bigyan natin ng tax break. 

Di baleng ang gobyerno ang maghirap, wag lang ang kababayan. Sanay na ang gobyerno mangutang. Papatol sa five-six eh para lang may makain o para makadagdag sa negosyo. Pagdating sa mga fuel, dapat ang issue sa energy, yung fossil natin gawin na nating renewable energy. For example, solar. Nasa gitna tayo ng equator, dapat tayo sikat sa solar.

Bello:

Di po sapat ang P200. Parang binibiro lang tayo ni Pres. Duterte with that no? Talagang ubos yan, isang araw lang. Sumasang-ayon ako sa mga sinabi ng magiting kasama natin dito na dapat ma-suspend ang excise tax and VAT on oil. At yung sinasabi nga namin ni Ka Leody from the beginning na itaas ang minimum wage to P750. 

We must really freeze yung payments natin on non-securitized foreign debt. Diyan nabubuhos yung kwan ng gobyerno eh. 20% of the budget goes to paying off debt. This is P1 trillion. Kailangan, especially in an emergency, na we circulate that back to the country. Andaming sources of revenue that we can get but what the government did binabaan yung income tax ng korporasyon. Brought it down from 30 to 20%. Wrong priorities talaga ito.

David:

Ang problema ang mentality ng gobyerno na mas maigi na yan kaysa sa wala which is really very wrong. Kaya ang pagbigay ng P200 na ito parang sinasabi ni Ginoong Duterte mas maigi na yan kesa wala. Una ako sa nanawagan na tanggalin yung excise tax at ireduce ang VAT. 

Imagine mo yung VAT, yung isang tax na ipinatong sa presyo ng gasolina, tinatax ka ulit pag kinarga mo na sa sasakyan. Anong klase naman yan? Dalawang tax sa iisang produkto. Dapat buhusan na natin ng pera yung mga maliliit na negosyo tutal nanakawin din naman ng pulitiko eh ibigay na natin na diretso sa maliliit na negosyo. 

Of course we can make arrangements how this can be done para naman maibsan na yung hirap ng mamamayan. Di lang naman to issue ng fuel eh. Di lang naman yon ang reason ng pagtaas ng bilihin. Dapat talaga buhayin ang ekonomiya.

Lopez:

Di po sufficient ang P200 every month for every family, but as they say, it’s better than nothing. Alam niyo etong spikes in local pump prices is speculative. Wala pong basehan yan. If we base it on the supply-demand analysis, wala pong basehan yan. Kailangan gawin ng gobyerno ay gamitan ng moral suation ang mga oil companies na huwag munang magbaba sapagkat di tayo dependent sa Russian oil. 

It only represents 10% of global supply of crude oil. On top of that, kayang tapatan yan kung mag increase ng production ang Saudi Arabia at UAE and even the US. Ang local pump prices ay walang basehan sapagkat meron din tayong 60 to 90 days na istrategic reserves ng oil. Pwede po nilang gamitin yan. Binili nila yan at the time na $70 ang price ng crude oil based on the price index. Di pwedeng automatic na taasan nila yan sapagkat matagal ang supply chain niyan.

Ong:

Kami ni Mayor Isko, limang buwan na nakaraan na sinasabi na balak bawasan ang buwis sa petrolyo at kuryente. Talagang makatulong to sa kababayan natin. Tulad sa Maynila, maaga siya nagbigay ng ayuda—February, March for 700,000 families. 

Laging maaga yung mga ayuda niya. Expect natin tataas yung bilihin so dapat suportahan yung agriculture, food security natin at focus tayo sa renewable energy dahil mas mura ito in the long run. Pero puno’t dulo nito ang pandemic parin. 

Alam niyo ba, lalo na ngayon, posibleng may paparating na surge, sa mga probinsya Alert Level 2 parin sila kahit konti kaso. Ang sagot nila, kulang sa ospital, sa mga doktor. Di sila maka-open ng Level 1 kasi oras na dumami konti ang kaso, mabilis mapuno ang ospital.

David and Pangilinan also addressed absentee Duterte-Carpio during their rebuttals, saying they would love to hear her answers.

David: 

Natutuwa ako sa mga sagot ng aking mga kasama. Kaya lang nalulungkot ako na yung nangunguna sa survey, di natin marinig kung ano ang kanyang opinion hingil sa bagay na ito.

Sana nandidito si Inday Sara para masabi niya naman mga nais niya sabihin. Kami nagtatagisan ng talino dito pero paghahatian daw namin 50% ng boto. Tuwang-tuwa siya nakaupo lang siya. Inday Sara, dumayo ka naman, dumalo ka naman. Gusto namin makamayan ka man lang.

Pangilinan:

Alam mo kaming mga kandidato, lumiligaw kami. Lumiligaw kami ng kandidato. Pag lumiligaw, dapat humaharap.

Ako, may tatlong anak, pag may lumiligaw sa aking anak. Dapat humarap. Respetuhin ang aking anak, respetuhin ang mga magulang. Pag hindi humaharap, nirerespeto ba kami? Kung kayong mga botante, pag hindi humaharap, nirerespeto ba kayo?

VP bets share COVID-19 response game plans

Vice presidential bets were asked, "May kakulangan ba sa kasalukuyang pagtugon sa COVID-19? Paano mo ito susuportahan?"

Here are their answers:

Carlos Serapio:

I would like to think that the current administration has done its best in order to address it.

As Vice President, if and when I'm blessed with the position, I do intend to push for more research and development. In the package that was passed by the Congress, I was surprised that they've created P1.3 billion for walkpaths and bicycles, (but) they've only appropriated P10 million for research and development and another P15 million for computational or big data analysis.

We should also have organic-based, natural response to the pandemic.

Tito Sotto:

Kahit ano pang virus ang dumating sa atin, dapat tayo na ang nagma-manufacture ng bakuna, PPE, syringes, needles, cotton. Para matigil na iyong importation. Iyon ang dapat na asikasuhin ng gobyerno na tayo na nagpo-produce nitong mga ito.

Bigyan natin ng mataas na sweldo hindi lang iyong mga frontline health workers, kundi pati mga barangay healthworkers, nurses, doctors.

Walden Bello:

I think the performance of the Duterte administration has been quite dismal. Alam naman nating there have been more than three million infections na and 55,000 deaths.

Had the government had a better approach, hindi militaristic, the infections rates and the deaths could've been reduced by half. Napaka-unprepared.

The IATF, unfortunately, was quite unprofessional in the way it was dealing with things. Ang daming corruption diyan. The whole Pharmally thing is a stain on the government.

We need to have an approach that is participatory. We need to give priority to the opinions of the medical community, instead of seeing them as enemies.

Under my administration with Ka Leody, we will do far better than this crazy administration!

Rizalito David:

Maraming nawalan ng trabaho, bumagsak ang gross domestic product, gumastos tayo nang mahigit isang trilyong piso. Pero anong nangyari? Wala rin naman, paulit-ulit lang.

Samantalang may nagpresenta ng solusyon na makakabuti sa sitwasyon, pero hindi pinakinggan. P40 billion would've been enough to stop the spread of the disease. But the Department of Health, IATF, even President Duterte didn't hear that.

Dapat lahat ng stakeholders, kausapin, medical and entire scientific community. Para magkaroon ng consensus, para di na maulit ito. Nagtapon tayo ng sandamakmak na inutang na pera. Hanggang ngayon di tayo maka-recover.

Manny Lopez:

Our response to the pandemic started a bit slow, but it has improved across time. Certainly, there were initiatives that were undertaken by the private-public sector. And these are the key improvements that led to the improvement of our COVID-19 response.

It's our bayanihan spirit that actually propelled a better pandemic mitigation and response strategy.

My general prescription really is for a science-based, pragmatic, and cost-effective approach to pandemic management. This must be devoid of commercialism, of profit maximization, including politics.

We have to have more doctors, provide more scholarships, build more hospitals.

Willie Ong:

Sa Asya ngayon, nagse-surge uli ang COVID. Sa Hong Kong, Vietnam, ang tataas ng kaso. May posibilidad na aabot uli sa Pilipinas.

Marami tayong pwedeng gawin. Dapat magtayo tayo ng infectious disease hospital. Di pwedeng sa PGH lang, kawawa ang ibang pasyente.

Meron nang mga gamot sa COVID-19. Free testing din napakahalaga. Suportahan natin healthcare workers. Pwede tayo gumawa ng Center for Disease Control natin.

Pag di natin basta-basta ginawa itong lima, wala, babalik uli tayo sa lockdown.

Kiko Pangilinan:

Kung nariyan pa rin ang mga kurakot at incompetent  na nagpapatakbo ng ating COVID-19 response, magkakaproblema tayo. Kailangan tanggalin na sila ngayon pa lang at hanapan ng mga kapalit na mahusay at tapat sa panunungkulan.

Kinakailangang palakasin pa ang testing, tracing, at isolation natin. Dapat ang testing libre na, di na dapat ito ginagastusan pa.

VP candidates on tandem voting, appointment in Cabinet

The vice presidential candidates were asked whether they would revise the powers of the vice president according to the Constitution.

Ong, Pangilinan, and Serapio said they are in favor of tandem voting, wherein the voting public will elect a ticket rather than an individual aspirant.

“Ayaw natin na medyo di parheong partido. Sabi nga ni Mayor Isko, ang plano namin ay tandem voting para di mag-away sa pagpapatakbo ng gobyerno,” Ong said.

“Dapat tandem para nagkakaisa sa umpisa lamang at di nagkakaroon ng bangayan,” remarked Pangilinan, who said that the VP’s powers according to the Constitution doesn’t need to be amended.

“Mahirap kung nakahawak ang presidente ay sa kanyang korona na nag-aalalang may kukuha ng posisyon niya,” said Serapio.

Meanwhile, Sotto and Bello said that it’s better to elect individual candidates for “checks and balances.”

“I think that it is good to have two candidates from opposite parties. I don’t see that as really bad. I think it can create good dynamics,” Bello said. 

He also called out the absence of Duterte-Carpio amid the debates: “I really would like to hear from Sara Duterte. I don’t know why she doesn’t appear in the debates. I think she should be here.”

“Mas maganda may check and balances. Yung 64 million Filipinos ang dapat bumoto kung sino nila gustong lider ng ating bansa,” Sotto said.

On the other hand, David said that if they were to amend the VP’s powers, the government should push for a parliamentary reform. 

“It doesn’t really matter if mag tandem voting. Di parin mareresolve ang ating problema sa pamamahala. Kahit magkasama pa yun sa isang partido, yung bagal ng proceso sa isanbg presidential system, yun yung dapat iaddress kaya ang tinutulak ko ngayon ay parliamentary reform.”

Lopez, for his part, said that the Constitution should further define when could a VP assume the position of president.

Pacquiao visits Atienza who's recovering from surgery

Presidential aspirant Manny Pacquiao shared photos of him visiting his running mate Atienza.

Atienza won't attend Comelec's vice presidential debates on Sunday following his knee surgery.

Comelec to strengthen fact-checking on the spot following Montemayor's false claims

Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said they'll actively fact-check on the spot moving forward, following last night's incident in which a presidential candidate made false claims on air twice.

Jose Montemayor falsely claimed that the Inter-Agency Task Force is headed only by lawyers. Isko Moreno Domagoso was quick to correct him.

Montemayor stated another untruth by saying that workers supposedly have low morale because of the COVID-19 vaccination card requirement. He didn't specify where he based his pronouncement.

The cardiologist and lawyer also erroneously said that COVID-19 vaccination will expose someone to infection.

VP bets start to arrive

The vice presidential bets have started to arrive in the venue.

As of 4:33PM, Comelec said Ong, David, Lopez, and Sotto were already present, speaking with reporters on the ground.

(This is an ongoing coverage. Refresh this page for updates.)