Vice presidential candidates on Saturday expounded on their expertise and experience when asked for their preferred Cabinet positions if elected in the May 9 polls in a debate hosted by CNN Philippines — marked by the absence of the survey frontrunner, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.
Professor Walden Bello was the most bellicose among the seven VP candidates in the debate held at the University of Santo Tomas auditorium. He called out Duterte for her absence and grilled Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III and Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan’s resolve to help small businesses amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The trio also got heated on a discussion on foreign policy, as Bello, the former Akbayan party-list congressman, accosted Sotto and Pangilinan for their proposed policies that supposedly lean toward relationships with bigger nations.
Sotto, the running mate of Partido Reporma bet Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, reiterated his willingness to lead the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to answer the CNN panelists’ question on what branch of the Executive Department they preferred to lead.
Bello said he would prefer being appointed as Finance secretary, as the department is of “such central importance to improve the well-being of the people” and would allow him to tax “the top 750 people, billionaires in the country and this will be for social programs that will go and benefit the vast majority.”
Pangilinan, the running mate of current Vice President Leni Robredo, said he is open to a Cabinet position where he would be able to address the ills of the agriculture sector, as he has been advocating for the welfare of farmers and fisherfolks and to address issues in the country’s food security.
Aksyon Demokratiko vice-presidential bet Willie Ong, meanwhile, said he preferred to be involved in the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“That depends on the President. If they want me to lead the Department of Health, I am okay with that. If he wants me to help in providing assistance to the people I am also okay with that,” Ong said.
One candidate on Saturday also said “amorality and lack of trust in institutions” among the people are the main obstacles to national development.
That candidate, Rizalito David, added that should he win, he would ask the President to create a commission for “moral renewal and cultural restoration” which he would lead to help bring back the morality of the people for the betterment of their future.
If elected vice president, candidate Manny Lopez said he would choose the Department of Trade and Industry and push for the enactment of a new Omnibus Investments Code that he said “is a must to uplift the lives of our people, as we will be facing severe challenges in the
Carlos Serapio, for his part, said he would take the portfolio of the Department of Foreign Affairs, given his background in backchanneling work, to maintain good relations with other countries.
Apart from Duterte, Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza, running mate of Sen. Manny Pacquiao, was absent from the debate as he underwent knee replacement surgery.