Philippines presidential candidates on attack mode at second Comelec debate

Roxas questions Binay's plan to bring notes to the stage, saying Comelec rules specified no cheat sheets were allowed.

Philippine presidential candidates went for the jugular at the second presidential debate on Sunday, with the attack often becoming personal.

The second leg of the PiliPinas Debates 2016 was held in Cebu City. Front runner Grace Poe launched a tirade against Vice-president Jejomar Binay, saying he government failed to pass the Freedom of Information (FOI) Bill, which was a campaign promise of President Aquino.

"With all due respect Mr. Vice President, there're many questions that you did not answer in the Senate. How can you make us believe that you'll support the true FOI Bill?" Poe asked.

In response, Binay dug up the issue of Poe's citizenship. "Are you a true Filipino? You're ashamed to be a Filipino!" Binay asked Poe, citing the oath of allegiance for US citizenship.

"The oath of allegiance says 'I abjure'– that means I'm ashamed of where I come from. I'm ashamed of being a Filipino," Binay said, according to the PhilStar.

Binay also ripped into Manuel Roxas II over corruption allegations at various government departments under his watch. "Mr. Roxas was guilty of paralysis by analysis. He can never make a decision," Binay said. "You really are a disciple of Goebbels," Binay said, echoing allegations of stealing.

The debate was delayed by an hour as organisers waited for a decision from the election commission over whether Vice-president Binay can bring documents on stage during the debate.

Roxas had questioned Binay's plan to bring notes to the stage as the Comelec rules specified no cheat sheets were allowed.

"This is the Comelec. Even before in Cagayan de Oro, the rule was no notes so that the public can see how this candidate thinks," Roxas said, according to Rappler. However, front runner Grace Poe said she was okay with Binay having notes.

Binay's camp defended him saying the vice-president did not bring notes, but documents that supported his stance in the corruption allegations levelled at him.

Two more Comelec debates will be held, both in April, ahead of the elections.