MANILA, Philippines — Presidential candidate Sen. Manny Pacquiao has never backed down from debates at the Senate, contrary to the claims of presidential aspirant and former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s spokesman that the former boxing champion shied away from challenges made by fellow senators, Pacquiao’s camp said yesterday.
In a statement, Pacquiao’s legal counsel Nikki de Vega said the senator was able to serve the country well in various capacities.
“Moreover, the records will show that Sen. Pacquiao has served the nation well, in and out of the Senate, (be) they in the form of debates during sessions or building homes for the less fortunate using his own money, among others,” De Vega added.
Pacquiao’s camp issued the statement after Marcos’ spokesman Vic Rodriguez claimed that the former’s “bravery is misplaced” when he criticized candidates who shun public debates and ask for questions in advance.
“Sen. Pacquiao’s sudden bravery is misplaced. He was given a full six-year mandate to showcase his debating prowess, but he was too shy to take up those challenges made by some intellectual giants at the Senate,” Rodriguez said.
Last Sunday, Pacquiao hit fellow candidates who shun debates, saying voters should not support them as it is a worrisome symptom that when elected, they would not be able to hold these kinds of candidates accountable.
“If you’re scared of debates, what more if you’ve won the seat? … At the end of the day, if his administration fails and you look for accomplishments, they’ll tell you, ‘Why, did I promise anything to you?’” Pacquiao said while recognizing that candidates have a right to refuse debates.
De Vega emphasized that Pacquiao was merely “stating the obvious.”
“A true leader must be courageous to face his people, despite all odds and even if it is inconvenient for him. No one should cower. After all, this election is about the Filipino people and not one’s own sole interest. To consider running as president in the same footing as a mere job interview exposes the true motive of a candidate,” De Vega said.