Cebu City prepares for March 20 presidential debate

CEBU CITY, Philippines – Presidential candidates will square off again in the second round of presidential debates on Sunday, March 20, at the University of the Philippines (UP) Cebu. 

"It will be a different format, definitely, and shorter commercials," Gregg Lloren, a UP faculty member and event manager for the debate told Rappler. 

There are no final details yet on how much time candidates will have to answer questions, or on how much time would be allotted for commercial advertisements.

In the first presidential debate held on February 21 in Cagayan de Oro City, candidates complained that they did not have enough time to speak about their platform.

The new format would allow one candidate to ask a question to another. 

The venue, UP Cebu's Performing Arts Hall, could accommodate 500 people, but only 300 will be allowed inside for security and technical reasons. 

Lloren said candidates will be given time to speak to people outside the venue, then with the media at the library before proceeding to the session hall.

Inside the hall, 200 of the audience members will be invited by the Commission on Elections (Comelec), while 100 slots will be reserved for UP Cebu students and faculty. 

Outside of the hall, about 900 of 1,500 seats will be up for grabs. 

Some of the 900 seats were raffled off to non-UP students on March 8, in a forum titled, "Marcos in Retrospect: A Comparative Analysis of the Regimes under the Third Republic."

Lloren told Rappler that the organizers have met with local agencies including the Philippine National Police Region 7, the Cebu City Police Office, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and the Cebu City Transportation Office on security and traffic preparations.

But the group has yet to announce any road closures or extra security measures that will be in place for the debate.

Luchi Cruz-Valdes, head of News 5, will moderate the debate. 

She will be joined by a panel composed of the following:

The topics that will be discussed include climate change and disaster preparedness, education, women's rights, and health.

Prior to the first presidential debate in Cagayan de Oro City, Rappler filed a lawsuit against Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista for granting exclusive broadcasting and livestreaming rights to "hand-picked partners." –

Ryan Macasero

Ryan covers Cebu and the Visayas for Rappler. He covers all news in the region, but is particularly interested in people stories, development issues and local policy making.