Hugpong bets absent in Plaza Miranda debate with opposition slate

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Among those present at Plaza Miranda from the Otso Diretso senatorial slate were Gary Alejano, Chel Diokno, Florin Hilbay, Romulo Macalintal, and Erin Tañada.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 25) —The Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) senatorial candidates were nowhere to be found in Plaza Miranda Monday.

That's after the opposition Otso Diretso slate earlier challenged them to a public debate.

Among those present at Plaza Miranda were Gary Alejano, Chel Diokno, Florin Hilbay, Romulo Macalintal, and Erin Tañada.

"Di kami ang tinalikuran dito. Ang tinalikuran dito 'yung taumbayan," Hilbay said.

[Translation: We're not the ones shunned here. They shunned the nation.]

Macalintal, meanwhile, said the HNP slate can reschedule the debates on their own terms.

The other 'Otso Diretso' bets are Senator Paolo Benigno "Bam" Aquino IV, , former Bangsamoro Transition Commission member Samira Gutoc, former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and former House Deputy Speaker Erin Tañada III.

The 13-member HNP, led by Davao City Vice Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, are scheduled to campaign in Meycauayan, Bulacan and Valenzuela City on Monday.

CNN Philippines' Justice Correspondent Anjo Alimario contributed to this report.