One-on-one debate between Aquino, Villar in the works
A one-on-one debate between the two frontrunners in presidential preference surveys is now in the works, with both standard-bearers of the Nacionalista Party (NP) and the Liberal Party (LP) issuing statements that they are ready for a duel of ideas.
In a statement issued Tuesday afternoon, LP’s Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III called for a meeting between his camp and that of NP’s Senator Manuel Villar Jr. after the latter accepted Aquino’s challenge for the two to engage in a one-on-one debate.
“I think it’s time to end the proxy war. This would give Sen. Villar a chance to do what he wasn’t able to do on the Senate floor: take direct questions regarding the Senate’s findings on the C-5 deal and other issues that have remained unanswered by him,” Aquino said, adding that he would also take the opportunity to shed light on allegations thrown by some Villar supporters regarding the Cojuangco-owned Hacienda Luisita.
Aquino said the meeting between his camp and Villar’s will discuss the venue, date, format, and other details of their impending debate.
The LP standard bearer said he wants the debate to revolve around their positions on issues such as education, taxes, electoral campaign finance reform, foreign policy issues, food security, and constitutional amendments.
Aquino earlier challenged Villar to a one-on-one debate after the NP standard bearer failed to show up at Monday’s forum organized by the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (Focap).
Villar then accepted Aquino’s challenge Tuesday morning in a press statement, saying he is ready to debate since he sees this as “an opportunity to present plans and programs of government to the general public.”
He added that each candidate has the responsibility to communicate one’s vision for the nation even as one’s capability, competence, and record of accomplishment are tested through reason and inquiry.
“If such were the purpose of the challenge, I will gladly accede. Name the place, name the time, I will be there” he said.
However, Villar said, if the intention is to find a platform for senseless argumentation and mudslinging with the hope of calling attention unto oneself “then I will have to decline.”
In his follow-up statement Tuesday, Aquino said he is not ruling out the possibility of also including his cousin, administration bet Gilberto Teodoro Jr., and former President Joseph Estrada, in the debate.
Aquino consistently topped surveys since he announced his presidential bid in September. (See: Noynoy Aquino announces bid for presidency in 2010)
Villar however gradually narrowed the gap with the help of aggressive political advertising. (See: Noynoy, Villar neck and neck in latest Pulse Asia survey)
Estrada consistently ranked third in the surveys, while Teodoro usually ranks a distant fourth. (See: Aquino, Villar neck and neck in latest Pulse Asia survey)—Johanna Camille Sisante and Amita O. Legaspi/JV, GMANews.TV