How Filipino netizens reacted to the last Presidential Debate 2016

The final presidential debate for the May 2016 elections was held at PHINMA-University of the Philippines in Dagupan City, Pangasinan.

First to arrive on the venue was Vice President Jejomar Binay, followed by Senator Grace Poe. Then ex-Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas, Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, and Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago arrived shortly thereafter.

(Image Credit: ABS-CBN)

A lot of netizens have voiced out that they were undecided as to who they will vote as president and looked forward to the debate to help them pick among the bets.

At 6:05 PM, the top trending topic on  Twitter was #PiliPinasDebates2016 with more than 86,000 tweets  followed by #KAY ROXAS KAMI with more than 25,000 tweets,  and PRESIDENTE DUTERTE with more than 57,000 tweets.

By 7:45 pm, the only hashtag that remained on top was #PiliPinasDebates2016 with more than 620,000 tweets. This number climbed to more than 1.07 million tweets just when the candidates were giving their closing remarks at around 9 PM. The hashtag #NO2DU30 trended for a short time during that time, too.

The debate was hosted by Karen Davila and Tony Velasquez.

During the opening statements, a lot of netizens got worried about Senator Miriam Santiago since she paused a lot and some noticed her lips quivering. Noted blogger Carlo Ople tweeted, "Someone check the BP of Sen. Miriam. Her lips were quivering and she looked so uncomfortable. Worried." A lot of Filipinos expected the debate to be full of fireworks because of the witty senator's presence.

Despite her frail appearance and halting speech, Miriam earned the respect of the netizens who said that though she spoke slowly, her answers were still on point. A netizen even tweeted,"Let's all unite and give our energy to Miriam." with a cartoon character to boot. A lot prayed for her to finish strong in the debate.

After the opening statements, the candidates were asked about their opinions and solutions to pressing problems and issues in the Philippines like the West Philippine Sea issue, Traffic, Contractualization or endo and OFW Problems, After that, the debate moved on to a face-off portion wherein Roxas faced Binay, Poe faced Duterte, Duterte faced Santiago, and Santiago faced Roxas.

A lot of netizens commented that it felt like Roxas had homecourt advantage. There were lots of tweets pointing out that the network as well as the hosts showed some bias against other candidates, especially Binay and Duterte.

At one point, Tony Velasquez called Roxas, Vice-President Roxas, prompting a comment from Binay, "ah, promoted pala?" Velasquez apologized for his mistake, though.

In the fast talk portion, Davila asked Binay, "Bubuwagin mo ba ang mga private armed groups? Yes or No"(Are you going to dismantle private armed groups?) Binay answered with "Yes, of course."

Karen followed up with, "Kung ganun, bakit ninyo po kaalyado si Sajid Ampatuan na isa sa mga suspects sa Maguindanao massacre na inendorso pa kayo at tumayo pa sa entablado?" (If that's true, why are you allied with Sajid Ampatuan who is one of the suspects in the Maguindanao massacre, who endorsed you and who even stood on the stage?)

The audience reacted and boos can be heard for a few seconds.

Binay answered, "Mga kababayan nakakalungkot po ang reaction po ninyo. Alam po ninyo, yung Ampatuan na itinaas ko ang kamay, wala po doon sa pagkakataon at pangyayaring sya po ay nahabla." (My countrymen, your reaction is saddening. Do you know that the Ampatuan whose hand I raised, was not there in that incident for which he was sued?)

Some netizens lauded David for this fierce questioning but others also criticized her for showing what they perceive as bias against Binay.

As to online polls, Duterte proved his dominance again. In a Facebook poll by Inquirer which ran during the whole debate and ended at 9:45 P,M., 61 % of respondents think that Duterte was winning the final presidential debate. Roxas was a far second at 20%, Miriam came in third at 13%, followed by Grace at 4% and Binay came in last with 2%.

The online poll by Rappler showed similar results, with Duterte getting 65.74% of total votes followed by Roxas with 18.03%. Again, Santiago was third with 11.83%, Grace Poe 3.72%, and Binay with .67%.

But in the Inquirer website poll, it was Roxas who got the highest number of votes, getting almost 56% of the total, followed by Duterte with almost 27% of the votes. Poe came in third with 12.55%, followed by Defensor with 3% and Binay with 1.5%.

A lot of netizens thought the debate lacked fireworks, except for that face off between Mar and Binay, and Mar vs. Duterte. Aside from that, netizens expressed that a lot of  issues were still not tackled during the final debate.

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