Marcos rejects Robredo’s debate challenge: ‘Never going to happen’

Presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos rejected the challenge of Vice President Leni Robredo to a debate, his spokesman said Friday.

In a statement, Vic Rodriguez said a showdown between the two survey frontrunners will “never happen.”

[H]indi ito kailanman mangyayari sa ilang kadahilanan. At batid ni Ginang Robredo ang mga kadahilanang ‘yan,” he said.

[Translation: This will never happen due to various reasons. And Ms. Robredo knows those reasons.]

Rodriguez explained the two presidential bets share different views when it comes to debates and sharing their platforms to the public.

Sa panahon ng krisis sa ekonomiya na dulot ng pandemya ay malaking ginhawa marahil sa naghihirap na mamamayan ang makitang kalmado lang na nangangampanya at hindi nag-aaway at nagsisiraan ang mga taong naghahangad na mamuno sa bansa,” he said.

[Translation: In times of economic crisis brought by the pandemic, it’s probably a relief for the vulnerable sector to see that candidates are calmly campaigning and not fighting with one another.]

Earlier in the day, Robredo said she will appear at a debate despite the last stretch of the campaign period if Marcos will agree to a face-off.

The only female presidential aspirant posed this dare, “Inaanyayahan ko si Ginoong Bongbong Marcos na makipagdebate, para mabigyan ang taumbayan ng pagkakataong makaharap siya at matanong tungkol sa mga kontrobersiyang pumapalibot sa kanya. We owe it to the people and to our country. Kung papayag po kayo, anytime, anywhere, darating ako.

She added, “Mahalaga sana ito para masuri kami ng publiko, at para marinig nila at mapagkumpara ang vision at pagkatao namin.

[Translation: I am inviting Mr. Marcos to a debate so he can clarify to the public the controversies surrounding him. We owe it to the people and the country. If you will say yes, I will be there, anytime and anywhere. It is important so the public can scrutinize the candidate by comparing our visions and values.]

No Robredo, Marcos in panel interviews

Robredo, meanwhile, turned down the last-minute invitation of the Commission on Elections for a panel interview to focus on events organized by her volunteers.

Marcos, the son and namesake of the late dictator, earlier rejected the Comelec panel interview despite previously saying he prefers one-on-one interviews over debates and forums.

Since the start of the presidential race, he has only attended one debate — the one hosted by Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI), the media network owned by embattled televangelist Apollo Quiboloy, who has endorsed his candidacy.

Marcos is enjoying a wide lead in pre-election surveys. Robredo, on the other hand, posted the biggest jump in the last Pulse Asia survey but was still a distant second.

Pangilinan also challenges Sara Duterte

Robredo’s running mate Senator Kiko Pangilinan issued a similar dare to his rival, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte.

At susugan ko rin ang hamon ni [VP Robredo] kay Ginoong Bongbong Marcos at sa aking katunggali, kay Davao City Mayor Inday Sara Duterte na dumalo dahil bukod tangi sila sa lahat ng mga kandidato na hindi kailanman nagpakita sa mga debate,” Pangilinan said in a statement.

[Translation: I am also joining the challenge of VP Robredo to Mr. Bongbong Marcos, and my rival, Davao City Mayor Inday Sara Duterte to accept such challenge because out of all the candidates, they are the only ones who have not attended the debates.]

Duterte’s camp, however, underscored that the vice presidential bet has been focusing on her own campaign approach, which is performance-based and direct to the people.

“[She] has been in the frontlines of this campaign, giving the people a direct link to her person, her plans,” Duterte’s spokesperson Christina Frasco said.

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