Presidential bets split over dynasties, turncoatism

Podiums for Comelec presidential debate. STORY: Bets split over dynasties, turncoatism
MANILA, Philippines — The touchy topic of political dynasties and turncoatism elicited revealing responses and abrasive exchanges among the presidential contenders during Sunday’s debate, as they crossed swords over national and foreign policy issues, each seeking to have a standout moment five weeks before Election Day.
As in the earlier face-offs, government corruption remained one of the de facto themes, as the nine candidates — except for Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. who was again absent in the debate hosted by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) — were asked whether they believed it was a problem of people or systems.

The first confrontation of the night occurred when labor leader Leody de Guzman, who had answered the question by saying it was a problem of the electoral and political system, challenged Sen. Panfilo Lacson, who differed with him and said the problem lay with the officials running the system.
“The biggest problem is the trapos (traditional politicians) and the political dynasties are the ones who keep getting elected in government,” De Guzman said, rebutting Lacson’s earlier contention that the lack of leadership was the root of the problem.

“That’s why I said it’s people who are the problem. For me, the test of character to any official is to offer them power or money. If they pass the test, their character is good,” the senator said.
“It’s the leader who needs to set the example so that they could fully implement their policies,” Lacson said.

But De Guzman argued: “What I’m talking about is the system of election, not of people. What I’m saying is even if the law allows the Comelec to ban trapos and dynasties, they are able to come in anyway.”
‘Take it easy’
The exchange was cut short when the moderator, broadcast journalist Ces Drilon, asked De Guzman “to take it easy” as the next topic would focus on political dynasties.
By the next round of questioning, it was Sen. Manny Pacquiao’s turn on the hot seat after he defended the existence of political dynasties, without mentioning that besides himself, multiple members of his clan were running in the May elections.
“I’m okay with [banning] political dynasties… but remember we are a democracy. People vote for those who get to sit in office. They are not appointed,” the retired boxer argued.
“It would be unfair to families who are giving honest service and making changes… Not everybody steals from the government,” Pacquiao added.

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