Celeste reiterates debate challenge


ALAMINOS CITY— Mayor Arthur Celeste of this city reiterated his challenge to Gov. Amado Espino III to a debate on their respective platforms of government.

Celeste dared Espino last week in a video posted in his Facebook account to engage him in a public discussion of programs, platforms and issues to give voters an intelligent choice in the gubernatorial race, but the latter won’t bite.

Espino is seeking his second term while Celeste who is now on his second term as mayor is opposing him in a one-on-one gubernatorial fight.

However, Espino, in an interview with newsmen Monday, refused to accept the debate challenge. He laughed at Celeste’s suggestion.

He said he watched Celeste’s video where he was joined by Binalonan Mayor Ramon Guico III and Second District Board Member Raul Sison. The three challenged him, his father, Fifth District Rep. Amado Espino Jr. and the governor’s brother, Bugallon Mayor Jumel Anthony Espino, to a debate.

Guico is pitted against  the elder Espino in the Fifth District congressional race while Sison and Mayor Jumel Espino are gunning for the Second District seat being vacated by incumbent Rep. Leopoldo Bataoil who is seeking mayoralty post of Lingayen town.

Celeste said Pangasinenses will know more about their respective programs in health, livelihood, peace and order, infrastructure and agriculture through a debate.

He added that a debate will shift the campaign to a higher level instead of the usual personal attacks and black propaganda resorted to by their supporters.

Espino said the idea will be an unfair exchange since he is taking care of more barangays compared to Celeste’s only 39 barangays in Alaminos.

“Who will benefit from that debate? I suggest he merely presents his own accomplishments and I will present mine too. What’s the debate for? To humiliate me?,” Espino said.

Espino added that he has already done and continues to do what Celeste is simply planning to achieve for Pangasinan.

“If this is so, then why is he afraid to have a debate with me?” came Celeste’s retort.

Celeste added that Espino should not cite and underestimate his experience merely as mayor as reason not to debate with him since “we both served as barangay captain, mayor, board member… I also became a congressman and had served more than 200 barangays,” Celeste said.

Espino said debates are for neophyte politicians only but Celeste replied saying that when he started his political career in 1989 “it was he (Espino) who was still studying in school then.”

But Celeste clarified that the debate will not focus on their respective careers as politicians.

“That is where we will present our programs for our province. You present during the debate your accomplishments so the people may know,” Celeste said.

Chiding Espino, Celestes aid: “Look at the meaning of debate in the dictionary. A debate is a discussion. It has it rules and guidelines that would be followed by opposing camps. It is here where we can discuss real issues, not black propaganda.”

Espino said he has been presenting his accomplishments in his State of the Province Address and he will do it again on March 22 and even invited Celeste “so he can listen to it” to which Celeste said: “I will not attend so that Espino will not be distracted because for sure the people’s attention will be on me”. (PhilStar Wire Service)

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