In risky move, Binay challenges debate rule
As advertised, the second presidential debate created fireworks — even before it could start.
Vice President Jejomar Binay arrived at the debate hall in the University of the Philippines Cebu with documents that he said he wanted to present during the debate, but the other presidential candidates objected. Under the original rules of the debate series sanctioned by the Commission on Elections, candidates are not allowed to bring any notes to the stage.
The impasse led to a scene unprecedented in Philippine history — a 90-minute delay of the nationwide debate, then a heated debate about the debate before a live audience. If the reaction of the audience of about 300 was any gauge, the vice president had made a major political error.
Portions of the intemperate exchange were shared online.
Former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas objected to Binay’s attempt to introduce the documents because it was against the rules. Binay replied that he had been given permission by TV5, the network that organized the second debate, to bring the documents — something that Luchi Cruz Valdez, the debate moderator and the head of TV5’s news and public affairs, acknowledged and then profusely apologized for.
But instead of accepting Valdez’s apology, Binay insisted on presenting his documents, because he said he had practiced for the debate using the documents.Remarkably, Valdez then asked the other presidential candidates what they thought of Binay’s request in front of the audience — prompting a full-scale debate between Binay, on the one hand, and Roxas, Sen. Grace Poe, and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte on the other.
Every time Binay insisted on his right to present the documents, the majority of the audience either booed him or chanted “No notes” or made disparaging remarks. Roxas took Binay to task by calling for a “rules-based” society, while Poe emphasized the character-revealing nature of presidential debates. Duterte, like Binay a veteran lawyer, questioned Binay’s attempt to present documents that the candidates could not independently authenticate.
An hour and a half after the second debate was supposed to start, the forum finally got underway — with Binay, having risked political capital to insist on the mistaken advice he received from TV5, looking even more defensive.
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