BY ROGER M. BALANZA
Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte was the consistent winner in the first Pilipinas Debate 2016 held in Cagayan de Oro City on Sunday, February 21.
Duterte was selected by social media users who voted in Rappler’s polls.
Organized by the Commission on Elections (Comelec), the debate gave the presidential bets the chance on national television to tell the public why they should be voted in the May election as the next president of the Philippines.
All the presidential candidates — Duterte (PDP-Laban), Vice President Jejomar Binay (UNA), Mar Roxas (Liberal Party), Senator Grace Poe (Independent) and Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago (People’s Reform Party) – participated in the 3-round debate.
For all 3 rounds, Duterte emerged the top pick with wide margins over rivals by Rappler readers and netizens.
In Round 1, Duterte’s lead over second placer Santiago was 296. In Round 2, Duterte had a 451-vote lead over second placer Roxas.
While Duterte consistently ranked number one, the second placer alternated between Santiago and Roxas. The feisty senator ranked number 2 in the first round, while Roxas was second placer in the 2nd and 3rd rounds.
For the closing statements, Santiago took 2nd place, as against Duterte’s 1,000-vote top finish.
Binay – who has been a consistent frontrunner in presidential preference surveys conducted by pollsters – consistently ranked 5th in all the Rappler polls.
Duterte’s emphasis on a corruption-free, crime-free Philippines got him the nod of netizens, who said the tough-talking mayor had the best closing statement in the debate.
In his final remarks, Duterte reiterated his promise to clean up the Philippines within months if he is elected president.
In the final Rappler poll, Duterte got 1,000 votes (59.14%) out of the total 1,691 votes.
He had a 728-vote margin ahead of Santiago, who got 272 votes (16.09%). Roxas placed 3rd, with 263 votes (15.55%), followed by Poe with 129 votes (7.63%) and Binay with 27 votes (1.6%).
Poe took Rounds 2 and 3, as she focused on poverty and development, and Mindanao peace and development, illegal drugs, political dynasties, the Philippines’ row with China, and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA).
Roxas took Round 1, where he went on the offensive against his rivals.
The debate – the first in a series being mounted by Comelec and its media partners – was organized by GMA-7 and the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Two more sets of presidential debates – one in Visayas and the other in Luzon – will be held in March and April.
For Mindanaoans, the highlight of the debate was Duterte criticizing the “Tuwid na Daan” (Straight Path) that Liberal Party bet Manuel Roxas was offering as the solution to a laggard Mindanao.
Roxas said he would continue the support being given by the Aquino administration to the region.
Roxas said that in the last 5 years of the Aquino government, the funds given to Mindanao (P250 billion) was double compared to P125 billion during the administrations of Joseph Estrada and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in 12 years.
But Duterte said: “I did not see any straight path. It is crooked.”
He said it was not enough for Roxas to list down the amount of funds given to Mindanao without proving they went to the right programs.
“You do not count the funds given during the last 5 years. It was spent on corruption,” he said in rebuttal.
He said a disproportionate amount of money goes to Metro Manila while Mindanao, despite its contribution to the economy, does not receive enough funds.
The reason for this, he said, is the concentration of wealth and power in the capital.
Duterte presented federalism as his solution to the Mindanao challenge. From RAPPLER report