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After Skipping COMELEC Panel, Bongbong Marcos Declines Leni Robredo's Debate Challenge

Marcos Spokesperson Atty. Vic Rodriguez further slammed dilawans for negative campaigning.
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With 11 days to go before the elections, former Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr. seems to be sitting comfortably in the lead, according to the most recent surveys. So much so that he has declined yet another public speaking forum—this time, the panel interviews conducted by Commission on Elections (COMELEC), which happens to be a format his team had insisted on.

The Marcos camp earlier pushed for the panel interview format. Spokesperson Atty. Vic Rodriguez said that it “can measure the depth of a candidate who is presenting himself to be the next president of our country, distanced from the usual political noise, personal bickering and worse, gutter politics.”

Unfortunately, even with the new format, Marcos said no. His team cited the candidate's hectic schedule as the reason. So far, the lone debate Marcos, Jr. has attended was the Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI) debates last February.

Vice President Maria Leonor "Leni" Robredo, likewise, has declined to participate in the panel interviews by the COMELEC.

"Sa loob ng ilang araw, boboto na ang mga Pilipino. Halos tatlong buwan nang tumatakbo ang official campaign period, at naihayag ko na sa maraming pagkakataon ang track record, mga plano, at mga prinsipyo ko," she said in a statement: “Maraming beses na akong nagbigay ng panayam sa mga panel interview at naka-post online ang lahat ng recording na ito."

The presidential aspirant subsequently challenged Marcos to a debate. She expressed that the public should at least get to hear what the former senator would say about the various controversies that plague the frontrunner's campaign.

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Marcos declined Robredo's challenge, too. In a statement, Rodriguez said that he understood Robredo's "frustration," but emphasizes that it will never happen. He acknowledged that both candidates had different ways of conducting their respective campaigns.

He said: “Maaari po na silang dalawa, na parehong naghangad na maging pangulo ng republika, ay magkaiba ng paniniwala hinggil sa pamamaraan ng pakikipagtalastasan sa mamamayan."

Rodriguez reiterated that his camp would only engage in “positive campaigning," further slamming the "dilawans."

“Positibong pangangampanya at walang paninira ang gabay ng UniTeam ni Bongbong Marcos. At derecho sa taumbayan ang mga mensahe nito at ang panawagan ng pagkakisa. Pawan mga negatibo, panlilinlang at paninira naman ang sa kampo ng dilawan."

In the last Pulse Asia surveys released in early April, Marcos, Jr. leads all candidates at 56 percent with Robredo trailing at 24 percent.

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Bryle B. Suralta
Assistant Section Editor
Bryle B. Suralta is the Assistant Section Editor of Esquire Philippines.
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