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9 bets commit to Comelec debates

Evelyn Macairan - The Philippine Star
9 bets commit to Comelec debates
From left: Photo of Sen. Manny Pacquiao, Manila Mayor Francisco "Isko Moreno" Domagoso, Bise Presidente Leni Robredo, Ka Leody de Guzman and dating Sen. Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.
The STAR, File; Facebook page of Isko Moreno Domagoso; Facebook page of Leody de Guzman; Released / BBM staff

MANILA, Philippines — All but one of the 10 presidential candidates have committed to participate in the presidential debates organized by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) that begin on March 19.

In a tweet yesterday, Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said that as of 9:55 p.m. of March 12, six presidential candidates have submitted their “written commitment” while three others have “verbally committed” to joining the “Pilipinas Debates 2022: The Turning Point.”

Those who gave their written confirmation were former presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella, labor leader Leody de Guzman, Manila Mayor Francisco Isko Moreno Domagoso, former defense secretary Norberto Gonzales and Senators Panfilo Lacson and Manny Pacquiao.

In the same tweet, Jimenez said that candidates Faisal Mangondato, cardiologist Jose Montemayor Jr. and Vice President Leni Robredo have given their verbal commitment to take part in the debates organized by the Comelec in partnership with Impact Hub Manila.

Robredo’s spokesman, lawyer Barry Gutierrez, confirmed she would show up for the debate on March 19.

“In the last meeting called by Comelec, we already confirmed the participation of VP Leni in ALL of the Comelec debates, starting with the one on March 19. The formal written commitment will be submitted shortly. But to be clear: VP Leni WILL BE THERE for the Comelec debates,” Gutierrez said on Twitter.
Only former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has not sent any written commitment or refusal to join the debates.

Duterte defends bets skipping debates

On Saturday, President Duterte defended candidates who were skipping debates, criticizing the time allotted for them to answer questions of national interest.

“You know the debate – that is wrong. You are just given 30 seconds (to answer). It’s right not to attend something like that. One minute, then 30 seconds – what kind of a...,” Duterte said partly in Filipino in a televised interview by his friend and spiritual adviser Apollo Quiboloy.

His comments were aired, following the decision of his daughter, vice presidential candidate and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, not to participate in any debates ahead of the May 9 elections.

“I’ve already decided that I will do this campaign without joining debates,” Duterte-Carpio said when asked whether she would join the debates organized by the Comelec for vice presidential bets.

Duterte-Carpio and her running mate for president, Marcos, have skipped various debates, including the one hosted by CNN-Philippines last month.

Consequence of skipping debates

Earlier, the Comelec announced that those who skipped the debates face the consequence of being deprived of their free slots to livestream their e-rallies on the Comelec’s platform during the campaign period.

Also, the poll body would leave the podium allocated for that specific candidate during the debates vacant.

Jimenez had said that the PiliPinas Debates 2022 “is an opportunity for the voting public to see their candidates in action, performing under pressure, and showing leadership at crunch time.”

The Comelec said it welcomes questions the public wants the candidates to answer. “The PiliPinas Debates 2022 is a week away! No guarantees they (candidates) will be asked (questions from the public), but if you have questions for the candidates, submit them using the hashtag #AskPilipinasDebates,” said Jimenez.

The Commission is set to conduct a five-debate series before the May 9 national and local elections.

The series will include two presidential debates (March 19 and April 3), one vice presidential debate (March 20), one presidential town hall debate (April 23), and one vice presidential town hall debate (April 24).

The March 19 and 20 debates would both be held at Sofitel Hotel in Pasay City. – Helen Flores

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