#PiliPinasDeLate? Delayed Cebu debate stirs confusion on social media

MANILA, Philippines – Hosts of the second presidential debate in Cebu promised more debate talk and less ads than the first one held in Cagayan de Oro in February.

The Visayas leg of the presidential debates mounted by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and its media partners was supposed to run from 5 pm to 8 pm – an hour longer than the February 21 debate organized by GMA-7 and the Philippine Daily Inquirer. 

But on Sunday, March 20, the pre-debate program of television network TV5 ended up running from 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm. The debate itself was delayed by an hour and a half.

Rappler learned that 5 minutes before the debate was set to begin, the camp of Vice President Jejomar Binay insisted on bringing notes to the stage.

Part of the rules set by the Comelec, media organizations, and political camps state that candidates would not be allowed to bring notes during the debate but would be allowed to bring blank pieces of paper so they could take down notes.

It was the camp of Liberal Party standard-bearer Manuel Roxas II that reacted to the apparent last-minute "change" in rules. (READ: Cebu presidential debate delay: Can candidates bring notes?)

TV5 news chief Luchi Cruz Valdes then admitted that she allowed Binay to bring notes, unaware of Comelec rules.

The delay was not lost on many Filipinos tuned in on Sunday, with many on social media tweeting with the hashtags #PilipinasDeLate and #PilipinasDeLate2016. Many of them wanted to know the reason for the delay.

Sana sinasabi nila bakit naantala ang debate... Hindi yung nakanganga kame kamaisip baket late na magsisimula... #PiliPinasDebates2016 — kissmarky (@kissmarky) March 20, 2016 

@rapplerdotcom what's the hold up? Anong petsa na? Are the candidates still practicing? #PiliPinasDebates2016 — aimee sarmiento (@aimeesarmiento) March 20, 2016 

Twitter user Romar Ram Ignacio said with the delay, TV5's hour-long "extension" was useless.

Walang kwenta ang isang oras na extension ng debate nyu kung late nyu naman sisimulan ganun din ang kalalabasan #PiliPinasDebates2016 — Romar Ram Ignacio (@rHambOi) March 20, 2016

Rusty James Miranda tagged Rappler in his tweet: "We respect punctuality. We are hoping for fair and relevant command following the time of debate."

We respect punctuality.We r hoping for fair n relevant command following the time of debate @TV5manila @rapplerdotcom #PiliPinasDebates2016 — Rusty James Miranda (@superrustyjames) March 20, 2016 

Vincent Martin, who used #MiriamPaRin and #Miriam2016 in his tweet, jokingly asked if the debate organizers were waiting for presidential candidate Miriam Defensor Santiago, who begged off due to health reasons. 

Bakit late na magsimula ang debate?? hinihintay ba nila si MIRIAM? hahah #Miriam2016 #MiriamPaRin — Vincent Martin (@iamBinsent98) March 20, 2016

Some netizens asked if any of the 4 candidates were running late.

Meron bang late na candidate kaya di pa makapag-start yung debate? #PiliPinasDebates2016 — Neil Enore (@neilke93) March 20, 2016

may late siguro kaya di makapagsimula.. kuwentohan ba ito o debate #PiliPinasDebates2016 — Adrianne (@ehydriyan) March 20, 2016

Rappler journalists in Cebu reported that all candidates arrived before 5 pm. 

On his Twitter account, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez also asked TV5 what was going on.

Yo, @TV5manila. What's going on with #PiliPinasDebates2016? — James Jimenez (@jabjimenez) March 20, 2016

A few tweets after, he commended the network for "sticking to [its] guns."

If accurate that delay due to rules disputes, bravo @TV5manila for sticking to your guns! #PiliPinasDebates2016 — James Jimenez (@jabjimenez) March 20, 2016

Check out more tweets on the delay below.

#pilipinasdelate2016 Tweets

The March 20 debate held at the University of the Philippines Cebu was organized by TV5 and Philippine Star. Rappler.com

Jee Y. Geronimo

Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.