Vice President Leni Robredo was not reading a script during the CNN Philippines Presidential Debate on Feb. 27, contrary to posts circulated by candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s supporters across social media.
Television anchor Pia Hontiveros, one of the debate’s moderators, clarified after the program’s first commercial break that participating candidates were not allowed to bring pre-prepared notes but were permitted to take notes as the debate happened. Hontiveros said:
Wala pong dalang notes ang ating mga candidates. Wala pong kodigo, walang gadgets. Ang meron sila papel at ballpen at doon sila nogno-note taking (Our candidates did not bring notes. There are no cheat sheets and gadgets. They only have a paper and pen where they do note taking).
A post by Facebook page Uniteam Bbm-Sara that same day incorrectly alleged that Robredo was reading a script. They uploaded a clip showing Robredo glancing through her notes while answering a question about the West Philippine Sea with a caption saying:
Sa gobyernong tapat scripted ang lahat. Basa pa more (In an honest government, everything is scripted. She should read more).
On Feb. 28, Robredo posted on her personal Facebook account photos of the notes she took during the debate. She also mentioned that these helped her prepare for possible talk points without assurance these would be asked, saying:
…Good thing the organizers gave us a pen and some sheets of paper. Very useful in organizing my thoughts. Some of them I wasn’t able to use because they were not asked. Was just trying to anticipate some of the questions Kung ako yung unang tinatawag, di na ako n[a]kakapag notes dahil wala ng oras (When I’m called first, I can’t take notes anymore because there is no time).
Doctor and social media personality Willie Ong, who attended CNN Philippines’ vice presidential debate a day earlier, also said the organizers allowed them to take notes but did not give them questions beforehand.
The video was posted on Feb. 27 by TikTok user TheMowderPanyang where it received 31,900 views, 1401 likes, 837 comments and 114 shares.
Aside from Uniteam Bbm-Sara, clips of Robredo glancing through her notes were also uploaded by Facebook pages VOVph and Ikkis Ti Gandon Global. The pages were created in May 2020, June 2016 and August 2017, respectively.
At least four Facebook users along with a Twitter user also posted clips claiming that Robredo had a script or was given questions in advance.
Cumulatively, the social media posts garnered 241,255 views, 14,545 reactions, 4,502 comments and 4,003 shares.
Nine out of 10 presidential candidates attended CNN Philippines’ debate. Marcos was absent because of campaign activities in Pangasinan. (RC)