Lacson-Sotto tandem mulls over not attending last round of Comelec debates

Lacson-Sotto tandem mulls over not attending last round of Comelec debates
Sen. Panfilo Lacson and Senate President Vicente Sotto III attend/s a Senate hearing on smuggled agricultural products on Monday, March 28, 2022.
Lacson campaign / Released

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Panfilo "Ping" Lacson and Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto III, who are running for the presidency and vice presidency, respectively, are thinking of skipping the final round of the Commission on Elections' (Comelec) debates for candidates, saying that their schedules are already filled in the coming days. 

The poll body earlier postponed its town hall debates to later dates, to April 30 and May 1, instead of April 23 and 24. 

The change in schedule comes after reports circulated on Thursday night that Comelec's voter information campaign partner Vote Pilipinas figured in a payment mess with Sofitel, the venue of previous debates. 

Comelec Commissioner George Garcia said that they are coordinating with campaign teams of the candidate to apologize for the postponement.

"In all likelihood, baka i-skip nalang namin 'yung debates pagka ganyan (I might skip the debates if it will be like that)," Lacson said in a press conference during his courtesy visit to mayoral aspirant Casimiro "Jun" Ynares in Antipolo City on Friday.

"We have already fixed our schedules," he added.

Lacson's running mate Sotto also said that he has many events planned for the succeeding days. 

"Yes, I'm seriously considering skipping the debates," he said. 

"Hayaan mo na, tutal di naman umaattend ang [ibang kandidato] (Anyway, there are other candidates who are not attending)," Sotto added, without giving names. 

Survey frontrunners Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos and Sara Duterte-Carpio have been a no-show at Comelec's past debates this year. 

Comelec partnership questioned

On Friday, Lacson wondered aloud why the Comelec decided to hire a private contractor to secure the venue for the debates. 

"Comelec could have done it by themselves, right? They would canvass, find the appropriate venue, and check the most economical and feasible place where the debates can be held. Why do they have to course it through a private contractor?" he asked.

He explained that, under the rules of the Commission on Audit, government agencies and offices are only required to canvass for the cheapest services.

The national and local elections are set to be held on May 9, 2022. — Angelica Y. Yang






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