Marcos steers clear of Comelec presidential debate

Marcos steers clear of Comelec presidential debate
Bongbong Marcos, presidential candidate and son of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, gestures after delivering his speech during a campaign rally inside a gymnasium in Bocaue town, Bulacan province, north of Manila on February 8, 2022.
AFP / Ted Aljibe

MANILA, Philippines — Former Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. will skip the official Commission on Elections presidential debate scheduled for the weekend, his spokesperson confirmed Monday, preferring to couch the presidential candidate's absence from the event as his "non-participation."

"Presidential frontrunner Bongbong Marcos’ words are his bond, thus we shall honor our commitment to our supporters to be with them on the field on this day," lawyer Vic Rodriguez said in a statement to media. 

Marcos' campaign previously said that the former senator's attendance "will only be confirmed if his hectic campaign schedules permit."

Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez has said that other presidential bets, including former presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella, labor leader Leody de Guzman, Manila City Mayor Isko Moreno, Norberto Gonzales, and Sens. Ping Lacson and Manny Pacquio sent their written confirmation while Faisal Mangondato, Jose Montemayor Jr. and Vice President Leni Robredo expressed their commitments verbally.

Marcos has been debate-averse since the start of his campaign and has opted out of forums organized by GMA News and another arranged by the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas that was aired over 300 member networks and stations.

Marcos, son and namesake of the ousted dictator, also skipped a debate organized by CNN Philippines.

He has a forum organized by SMNI — owned by pastor Appolo Quiboloy, who has already endorsed him and his running mate Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio — but has generally preferred more controlled venues like a media briefing hosted by Trixie Cruz-Angeles and a panel interview arranged by radio DZRH.

In a radio interview on Sunday, Sen. Imee Marcos urged her younger brother to attend debates and media appearances, so he could have the opportunity to answer criticisms against him. She pointed out that he was already starting to get flak for his media no-shows. 

"We shall continue with our preferred mode of direct communication with the people and engage them in a more personal face-to-face interaction that discusses real issues that affect them today, tomorrow and in the days to come as this election is all about our collective future," Rodriguez also said in his statement Monday. 

with a report from Kristine Joy Patag 

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