Senatorial bets test mettle in Harapan debates

Posted at 05/03/10 9:29 AM

MANILA, Philippines (Update) - Ten senatorial candidates from different political parties faced off on Sunday in the second edition of ABS-CBN's Harapan: Mga Isyu ng Bayan debate at La Consolacion College in Manila.

There were few fireworks in Sunday's debate, which saw the candidates tackle issues such as law and order, Charter change, poverty reduction, pork barrel and employment.

The candidates were Pia Cayetano, Susan Ople, Ramon Mitra III and Gwen Pimentel of the Nacionalista Party; Teofisto Guingona III, Martin Bautista and Ruffy Biazon of the Liberal Party, Rodolfo Plaza and Joey de Venecia III of Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino; and Manuel Valdehuesa of Ang Kapatiran Party.

The debates were simulcast live on ABS-CBN, ABS-CBN News Channel and abs-cbnNEWS.com. It will be replayed on Studio 23 and The Filipino Channel.

At the start of the debate, Cayetano and Guingona both agreed that the national budget is vital in diminishing the level of poverty in the Philippines.

Guingona pushed for higher budget allocation for education, food and health particularly in Mindanao while Cayetano said she would like to focus on revisions in Philhealth if she is re-elected.

The two bets were placed on the defensive after they were asked about their standard-bearers Manny Villar and Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III.

Asked what she will do about the numerous corruption allegations leveled against Nacionalista Party standard-bearer Manny Villar, Cayetano said she is convinced that all of the allegations against her standard-bearer are politically motivated. 

For his part, Guingona said Aquino's character is more important than the number of bills he passed while in Congress. (Read: Cayetano, Guingona engage in 'proxy war' in TV debate)

Pork barrel

Biazon, meanwhile, edged out his opponent Plaza when they discussed the topic of law and order.

Biazon, son of former Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff Sen. Rodolfo Biazon, stressed the need to improve the government’s capability to fight crime. On the other hand Plaza said he wants social problems solved first.

Biazon said that he supported the death penalty for drug offenders in order to crack down on crime. Plaza countered by saying the death penalty is not enough as it should “cover everything, not just drug trafficking.” (Read: Biazon edges Plaza in Harapan debate)

De Venecia also fared better than his rival, Mitra, when they discussed the issue of corruption and misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

The businessman, who was the whistleblower in the botched NBN-ZTE deal, said he is all for transparency in the pork barrel and batted for stronger powers for the Office of the Ombudsman. He said he will not change the allotted PDAF of the senators and congressman due to the difference in the powers of the two.

For his part, Mitra said he wants new laws that would empower the Commission on Audit (COA) to lessen the cases of corruption related to pork barrel.  The NP senatorial bet also expressed his openness for Charter change to have equal distribution of funds.

Charter change

Valdehuesa, meanwhile, questioned Pimentel over the latter's support to amend the Constitution. (Read: Ang Kapatiran bet coins new word: 'kurakuted')

Pimentel said shifting from a presidential to a federal form of government would allow barangays to be included in higher government structures. She said development and the availability of basic social services under federal states would be ensured because of an enhanced local budget.

In turn, Valdehuesa said barangay development can be done without Charter change. He likened the barangay to a corporation that has the capacity to launch its own projects and outsource funds.

He added, however, that the national government has failed to brief the people about the nature of barangays in the community.

Bautista and Ople, meanwhile, said they would both seek reforms in the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) if they are elected to the Senate. (Read: Bautista, Ople eye reforms in OWWA, POEA)

Bautista, a returnee who worked as a psychiatrist in Oklahoma, USA, opened Sunday's Harapan: Mga Isyu ng Bayan debate at La Consolacion College with a promise: “I will only run and serve for one term as a senator.”

Ople, the daughter of late senator and Labor and Foreign Affairs secretary Blas Ople, and also the founder of an NGO that helps OFWs, said she is running to give local and overseas Filipino workers a voice in the government.


Below are the results of the voting in the WARS, online and SMS polls:

Results of Wireless Audience Response System (WARS) voting

Cayetano vs Guingona

Round 1

Naniniwala - 86.2%
Hindi Naniniwala - 13.8%

Naniniwala - 39.3%
Hindi Naniniwala - 60.7%

Round 2

Naniniwala- 84.7%
Hindi Naniniwala - 15.3%

Naniniwala - 43.2%
Hindi Naniniwala - 56.8%

Ople vs Bautista

Round 1

Naniniwala - 55.1%
Hindi Naniniwala - 44.9%

Naniniwala - 66.5%
Hindi Naniniwala - 33.5%

Round 2

Naniniwala - 76.5%
Hindi Naniniwala - 23.5%

Naniniwala - 88.2%
Hindi Naniniwala - 11.8%

Mitra vs De Venecia

Round 1
Naniniwala - 25.2%
Hindi Naniniwala - 74.8%

De Venecia
Naniniwala - 68%
Hindi Naniniwala - 32%

Round 2

Naniniwala - 36.4%
Hindi Naniniwala - 63.6%

De Venecia
Naniniwala - 53%
Hindi Naniniwala - 47%

Valdehuesa vs Pimentel

Round 1

Naniniwala - 79.5%
Hindi Naniniwala - 20.5%

Naniniwala - 40%
Hindi Naniniwala - 60%

Round 2

Naniniwala - 40.3%
Hindi Naniniwala - 59.7%

Naniniwala - 76.6%
Hindi Naniniwala - 23.4%

Biazon vs Plaza

Round 1

Naniniwala - 28.7%
Hindi Naniniwala - 71.3%

Naniniwala - 76.4%
Hindi Naniniwala - 23.6%

Round 2

Naniniwala - 32.5%
Hindi Naniniwala - 67.5%

Naniniwala - 76.4%
Hindi Naniniwala - 23.6%

Text ng Bayan votes as of 12:25 a.m.

De Venecia - 30.20%
Guingona - 28.22%
Pimentel -  15.7%
Valdehuesa - 6.32%
Bautista - 5.31%
Biazon - 4.97%
Cayetano - 3.65%
Mitra - 3.34%
Ople - 1.18%
Plaza - 1.12%

Online voting as of 12:12 a.m.

Cayetano - 24.4%
Pimentel - 17.3%
Ople - 14.1%
Guingona -  13%
Bautista - 7.1%
De Venecia -7.1%
Biazon - 7%
Mitra - 7%
Plaza - 2.4%
Valdehuesa - 0.2%