CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY — Amid the scorching heat of the sun, supporters of various presidential candidates swarmed the streets around a university here where the first presidential debate was held as scheduled on Sunday afternoon.
Armed with peculiar platforms of government, visions, and dreams, all of the five presidential candidates gathered in a mini-theater with a limited audience of 300 people on the 6th floor of the Capitol University here.
Vice President Jejomar Binay of the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) arrived at the venue first; followed by Senator Grace Poe (Independent); Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino (PDP)-Laban; Liberal Party (LP) standard bearer Manuel “Mar” Roxas II; and Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago of the People’s Reform Party.
The debate started at 5 p.m. with Mike Enriquez and Jessica Soho of GMA Network as anchor persons.
Among the notable guests was Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Andres Bautista.
The candidates followed a round robin format where each candidate was given a limited time to talk, defend, and rebut each other.
The venue of the debate was fully secured by joint police and military personnel who adopted measures to ensure that the guests and the candidates were safe.
A police officer said that anybody without a ticket and accreditation issued by the Commissions on Elections (Comelec) was not allowed entry in the school campus.
Chief Supt. Lyndel Desquitado, the head of the regional police command, said that the law enforcers were not taking chances in making sure that the presidential candidates were secured.
Security personnel were detailed at the entrance and exit of the elevator and inside the mini-theater.
Opposing local candidates, justices of the courts, and some political leaders and supporters coming from various regions in Mindanao also watched the presidential debate.
“We just come to boost the morale of our presidential candidate, a supporter from Surigao del Sur,” told the Philippines News Agency.
The signals of some telecommunication companies here appeared to have been temporarily disabled at the start of the presidential debate. Cris Diaz/PNA/northboundasia.com