By JOEY NACALABAN
MUDSLINGING characterized the DxIF-Bombo Radyo “debate” broadcast live and live-streamed on Facebook on Saturday night.
It was the first face-off of the mayoral candidates since the start of the campaign period. The two-hour and 20-minute face-off generated 902 reactions, a thousand shares, 7,800 comments, and 52,000 views as of 3:30 pm yesterday.
Mayor Oscar Moreno and his challenger Jose Gabriel La Viña, the standard bearers of the two dominant political groups in the city, were the most anticipated. Two other Moreno challengers, Benjamin Contreras and Felix Borres, are independent candidates.
Of the four, only Borres did not take part in the on-air political mudslinging — he spoke of “forgiveness.”
At the start of the discussion, each candidate was given by the radio program host cum moderator Junel Ucat three minutes to discuss their plans for the city.
La Viña, the first to speak, lambasted Moreno even as he cited the 100 complaints and cases filed against the reelectionist mayor before the Office of the Ombudsman and Sandiganbayan.
La Viña said he expected Moreno to be slapped with a suspension order anytime soon.
When his time to speak came, Moreno called La Viña a “master of demolition” and an “expert in spreading lies and propagating fake news” against him.
“Black propaganda is his expertise,” Moreno, smiling, remarked.
Moreno said all the cases against him could be traced to La Viña’s running mate, former mayor Vicente Emano “who cannot accept defeat.”
He then turned the tables on La Viña whom he said was removed as commissioner of the Social Security System (SSS) because he allegedly overpriced and demanded a P26-million budget for media programs, an allegation La Viña strongly denied.
La Viña denied that he demanded a P26-million social media budget, and explained that what really happened was that he sued SSS officials for corruption.
Contreras subsequently joined La Viña by asking Moreno about the P100-million budget for the traffic lights, a project started by the Emano administration.
Contreras said the project should have started during the first term of Moreno.
“Mag-three terms na lang siya, wala gyud nasugdan ang maong proyekto,” Contreras said.
He and La Viña also asked Moreno about the company called “Seers” that is engaged in real estate. The firm, they said, is a corporation owned by Moreno’s subordinates who are holding key city hall positions.
But Moreno said there was no conflict of interest on the part of his subordinates because Seers does not do business with city hall.
On the traffic light project started during the Emano administration, Moreno said the contractor has yet to complete the deliverables in the contract.
Before the face-off ended, Contreras asked Moreno how much he allegedly asked from him for an “OTP” (ore transport permit) when he was governor of Misamis Oriental.
Moreno merely brushed aside Contreras’s question by saying that he (Contreras) was someone who lobbied for a group that wanted to exploit natural resources.
Moreno said he was glad that the cases have reached the anti-graft court so he would have given a chance to answer all the charges.
He called these part of political persecution and vilification campaign against him. “My opponents just want to pull me down.”