Robredo blows her chance to debate Marcos on Quiboloy-owned network – #BotongPinoy2022
Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI), the official media arm of the religious sect led by Pastor Apollo C. Quiboloy, will be holding a presidential debate this February 15. Among the notable candidates, only former Senator Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. and labor leader Leody de Guzman confirmed their participation for the event.
Vice President Leni Robredo, Senator Panfilo Lacson, Senator Manny Pacquiao, and Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso all declined to participate, citing the fact that Quiboloy is facing numerous charges including conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking by force, fraud, and coercion and sex trafficking of children in the United States. They also added that Quiboloy already endorsed the tandem of Marcos and his running-mate Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio of Davao City.
For his part, de Guzman likened the upcoming event to debating Marcos in his home court. “Tutuloy ako sa SMNI debate kahit tila dumadayo ako sa home court ni Marcos Jr. Bilang kandidato, obligasyon kong ilahad ang aking plataporma sa lahat ng botante, kasama ang mga nanlalait sa pagtakbo ng isang labor leader sa pagkapangulo (As a candidate, it is my obligation to present my platform to all voters, including those mocking this labor leader for running for president),” de Guzman wrote on Twitter.
Knowing Marcos’ consistent refusal to participate in media events where he will appear side-by-side with other presidential candidates, Robredo could have seized this opportunity to debate the frontrunner – even if it is in his preferred territory. According to recent polls, Robredo is behind by as much as 40 points in the presidential race and she will need all the opportunities to contrast herself with Marcos – even if this has to be done before hostile debate moderators and audiences. The objective here is to gain free media mileage and reach more people – notwithstanding Quiboloy’s legal troubles.
This is similar to the decision of United States Senator Bernie Sanders, a leading progressive, to do a townhall event for the conservative Fox News Network in 2019 when he was still a presidential candidate. Sanders went straight to the lion’s den – and gained strong reviews!