Dela Rosa defends HNP's campaign style: 'No one listens to issues in sorties'

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 5) — Former Philippine National Police chief-turned-senatorial candidate Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa defended Hugpong ng Pagbabago's (HNP) style of campaigning, which has been chided by some opposition bets as mere entertainment.

"Mag-prangkahan tayo. 'Yung mga tao na 'yan, pupunta diyan purposely ba para lang makinig ng issues? I don't think so. Ang mga tao na 'yan pumupunta diyan para sumaya. Kung mapatawa 'yung tao diyan, gagaan na 'yung loob sa'yo," Dela Rosa told CNN Philippines' The Source on Tuesday.

[Translation: Let's be frank. Those people, would they purposely go just to listen to issues? I don't think so. Those people go there to be happy. If you make people there laugh, they'd be more at ease with you.]

Dela Rosa added that people would only listen to them talk about their platforms for "one or two minutes" before becoming dismissive.

"After niyan, kung madami ka nang platapormang sinasabi, kung ano gagawin na batas, sasabihin, 'Ah, nambobola itong pulitikong ito. Wala ito. Puro ito salita, walang gawa,'" he said.

[Translation: After that, if you are already saying a lot of platforms, like what laws you would craft, they would say, "Oh that politician is just fooling us. He's worthless. All talk, no action.]

When courting votes, some bets of the administration-aligned HNP, like Dela Rosa and former Senator Bong Revilla, devote a good chunk of their speaking time to singing.

"I hope plataporma 'yung sinasabi nila kasi so far, nakikita natin mukhang entertainment lang naman," Otso Diretso senatorial candidate and Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano told The Source last Thursday.

[Translation: I hope they're telling their platforms because so far, what it seems like we're only seeing entertainment.]

But Dela Rosa said despite entertaining the crowd, he still manages to talk about his platforms, which center on combating criminality and improving the police force.

'Bring it on'

The former police chief is also willing to take on the challenge of debating against Otso Diretso bets.

"Bring it on, sabi ko. Baka akala nila dahil matatalino sila sasagasaan na lang kami sa debate. Hindi po ako takot makipagdebate. Hindi nga ako takot makipaggiyera sa NPA (New People's Army), hindi nga ako takot makipaggiyera sa mga terorista. Kayo pa na debate lang 'yan? Hindi naman 'yan nakakamatay," Dela Rosa said.

[Translation: Bring it on, I said. Maybe they're thinking that becase they're smart, they can run over us in a debate. I'm not afraid to debate. I'm not even afraid to go to war against the NPA, I'm not afraid of going to war against terrorists. What more with you, that's just a debate? That won't kill anyone.]

If it were up to him, Dela Rosa said he wants to go head-to-head against former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas. He said it will highlight the difference between someone who has learned by the books and someone who has learned from experience on the streets.

Unlike some HNP senatorial candidates, Dela Rosa has taken the time to appear in televised debates, including CNN Philippines' Senatorial Forum.

However, the former Bureau of Corrections chief snubbed the debate organized by Otso Diretso on the anniversary of the People Power uprising at Plaza Miranda in Manila as he had to campaign somewhere else.

"Sino unahin ko? 'Yung sila o 'yung aking partido na kinakailangan kami doon lahat para sa kampanya, aming sortie? Sabihin naman ng mga local [officials] na nag-organize ng rally doon, 'Si Bato na pinaghandaan namin dito para mag-rally, inisnab kami kasi inuna 'yung Otso Diretso,'" Dela Rosa said.

[Translation: Who would I prioritize? Them or my party who needs all of us there for our campaign, our sortie? Then local officials who organized the rally will say, 'We prepared for Bato to have a rally here, but he snubbed us because he prioritized Otso Diretso.']

The Commission on Elections said that the prospects of them granting Otso Diretso's request for it to officiate a debate between them and HNP are bleak, considering that they no longer have the time and resources for it.

All Otso Diretso bets have appeared in televised debates, unlike HNP bets Senators Cynthia Villar and Juan Edgardo "Sonny" Angara, House Deputy Speaker Pia Cayetano, former Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla, and former Special Assistant to the President Christopher "Bong" Go.