REPRESENTATIVE Jonas Cortes turned down an invitation for a debate with Mandaue City Mayor Luigi Quisumbing, prompting the latter to say his rival has “chickened out.”
The challenge for a debate started after the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Cebu City chapter organized a debate for the candidates for mayor and vice mayor in Cebu City.
Ria Espina, who heads the IBP Cebu Chapter and the Young Lawyers Association of Cebu (YLAC), made a post on her Facebook account challenging the candidates for mayor and vice mayor in Mandaue City to a debate of their own.
Mayor Quisumbing and his running mate Vice Mayor Carlo Fortuna readily accepted the challenge, but Cortes and his running mate Glenn Bercede turned it down.
Lawyer Jamaal Calipayan, the chief of staff of Cortes, explained in his own Facebook post their reasons for turning down the invitation of the IBP Cebu and YLAC, saying Cortes has nothing left to prove to the voters of Mandaue City.
“I believe that debates are only necessary when there are pertinent issues to be resolved and in this case there are none; our camp has nothing to prove, especially to the Mandaue Voters who intimately know our plans and programs of action,” Calipayan said.
However, lawyer Elaine Bathan, the chief of staff of Quisumbing, said a debate is the perfect venue to help voters discern the stand of the candidates regarding issues on governance.
Bathan also said a candidates’ debate is also the perfect venue for the competing camps to raise issues against each other since they will have an opportunity to defend themselves. Bathan said it is much better than the slinging of mud through social media.
“A debate is an intellectual discourse and an exchange of ideas on topics put to front for discussion. It allows one to freely express and speak his/her heart out on a given topic. In a candidates’ debate, it allows the voting public to freely discern on who among those who are running for office have a better platform of government and whether or not their stand on relevant issues aligns with the governance they are seeking for in a leader. It is not an argument per se. Even if it is, what is there to fear? Rather than resorting to rants, trash talk, mudslinging, slashing down of election materials and black propaganda on irrelevant issues, the candidates’ debate brings the election campaign to a higher level,” Bathan said.
Calipayan also denied Quisumbing’s accusation of their camp chickening out from the debate, saying they don’t need additional publicity. He also said Cortes prefers to campaign in the barangays rather than join a debate.
However, Bathan said Cortes’s refusal to join the debate is a disservice to the voters of Mandaue.
“The people of Mandaue deserve a decent and academic symposium, which is the centerpiece of this democratic process called elections. Apparently, some cower on the idea of a face-off by guising the debates as a circus and thirst for publicity. They prefer to dance rather than sit down on stage and engage in a scholarly forum,” Bathan said. (FMD of SunStar SuperBalita Cebu)