By Neil Arwin Mercado | Inquirer.net
MANILA, Philippines — Presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. said he would rather campaign on the ground than have the same thing be repeated in the debates.
Marcos Jr., who has been criticized for skipping some of the presidential debates, said if there is a way for the debate to be “productive and constructive” where candidates can talk about policy and argue, then he would attend.
“So if there is a way the debate is actually productive, constructive—that we can talk about policy, we can argue, we can debate as a proper debate, then fine. I would go,” Marcos Jr. said during the Kapihan sa Manila Bay forum.
“But if you’re going to repeat and repeat the same thing, I’d rather campaign,” he added.
Marcos Jr. pointed out the number of debates ahead of the elections in May.
“Ang dami-daming debate. Dati isa lang, Comelec. So yun ang ang pupuntahan naming lahat,” Marcos Jr. said.
“But if there’s so many debates, pare-pareho na ‘yung tanong, we are not getting anywhere anymore. And if it is going to be that way na pare-pareho na lang and then wala the debate gets personal. What use is that to anyone?” he added.
Among the controversies that Marcos Jr. is facing in his candidacy is the history with his father, the late president, and dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. who has been criticized over issues of corruption and human rights violations during his term.
“I’ve been answering these questions for 35 years why do I have to answer them again and nothing’s going to change their opinion. My opinion isn’t going to change,” Marcos Jr. said.
“Why are we doing this again? Let’s talk about the present and then let’s talk about the future because that is what is on people’s minds. People are worried about what our life is going to be, what are you going to do for us,” he added.
Marcos Jr. has previously been criticized for declining some major presidential debates and forums attended by his fellow presidential candidates.
Marcos Jr.’s first decline is the interview with veteran journalist Jessica Soho, whom he called “biased.” Marcos also skipped the presidential forum organized by the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP), citing conflict with schedule.
Marcos Jr. likewise skipped the debates organized by media network CNN Philippines.
Marcos Jr., however, attended the debates organized by media network SMNI. Other presidential candidates—Senator Panfilo Lacson, Manila City Mayor Isko Moreno, Senator Manny Pacquiao, and Vice President Leni Robredo—did not attend the SMNI debates.