A debate organized for the three vice presidential candidates turned into a question and answer session when only one of the candidates showed up. The debate which was held last night at PCC Assembly Hall was organized by the Palau Community College and Palau Media Council (PMC).
Vice Presidential candidate Raynold "Arnold" Oilouch during the debate. Photo by Ongerung Kambes Kesolei
Sen. Raynold “Arnold” Oilouch was the lone vice presidential hopeful who showed up to take on questions from the media and PCC students.
Meanwhile, the two other candidates held separate campaign events away from Koror on the same evening as the debate. Sen. Mlib Tmetuchl was campaigning in Kayangel State while Yositaka Adachi was in Babeldaob.
Tmetuchl’s non participation was communicated earlier by his campaign committee representative that he will not be taking part in the debate.
Gov. Adachi, however, followed through with his threat of not participating when none of his four demands were met by the debate organizers. His demands include 1) a review of all questions to ensure their relevance to the office of the vice president; 2) he will only participate if all candidates take part; 3) Alfonso Diaz will film the whole debate and OTV is out; and 4) Adachi will have the last and closing remarks.
According to PMC vice chair Salvador Tellames, they considered the request from Adachi’s camp, but had to come up with what is fair for all candidates. “We did what we think was fair for all candidates. It’s up to them whether they want to participate or not,” said Tellames.
He stressed that the debate organizers invited the candidates for final briefing two days before the debate, but only Oilouch campaign representative showed up.
“We never closed the door, it was open until the debate night,” Tellames further said.
Debate program included flag presentation by the police force honor guards,followed by reading of the Palau Constitution’s preamble.
The debate proceeded with the format of three candidates. But instead of a planned three questions to be answered with rebuttals from each of the candidates, Oilouch answered all the questions with no one to counter his statements.
Among the questions were responsibility of the vice president, land court and reopening of public lands claim, preferred ministry, designation of authority, and leadership.
[Full disclosure: The author of this article is a member of the Palau Media Council]