2022 Philippine Elections

Comelec won’t turn away last-minute debate participants

Dwight de Leon
Comelec won’t turn away last-minute debate participants

David Castuciano/Rappler

'If you arrive on the day of the debate itself, without having signed a written commitment, you will still be bound to the rules by your presence,' says Comelec spokesman James Jimenez
Comelec won’t turn away last-minute debate participants

MANILA, Philippines – Presidential aspirant Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and his running mate Sara Duterte-Carpio will still be allowed to join the debates organized by the Commission on Elections (Comelec), in case they have a last-minute change of heart and show up on the day of the highly-anticipated event.

Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said on Monday, March 14, that the poll body is “not ready to call it quits” with the two survey front-runners, even as the two have already announced to the media that they will snub the televised debate series organized by Comelec.

Jimenez added the two will not be turned away should they show up without having submitted a signed commitment form in advance.

“If they arrive on the day itself, they will be allowed to join. This will be extended to all candidates except that it’s moot, because the rest of the candidates already signed,” Jimenez said.

For the presidential race, nine out of the 10 candidates have confirmed their attendance in the debates.

For the vice-presidential face-off, seven out of nine aspirants have submitted written commitment forms. House Deputy Speaker Lito Atienza has formally declined to participate due to medical reasons.

Jimenez noted that a signed commitment form is not a requirement, but beneficial so that candidates will be given an opportunity to do an ocular inspection of the venue and be briefed about technical matters ahead of the event.

“If you arrive on the day of the debate itself, without having signed a written commitment, you will still be bound to the rules by your presence,” Jimenez said. “You have to assume that you are bound by the rules that everyone else agreed on.”

Marcos is skipping the March 19 presidential debate, saying he will be “on the field” with supporters that day.

Duterte-Carpio, meanwhile, said she has decided not to join any debates ahead of election day.

Comelec won’t turn away last-minute debate participants

Titled “PiliPinas Debates 2022: The Turning Point,” the series will be held on the following dates:

  • March 19 – first presidential debate
  • March 20 – first vice presidential debate
  • April 3 – second presidential debate
  • April 23 – second vice presidential debate (town hall format)
  • April 24 – third presidential debate (town hall format)

Election watchdogs have agreed that candidates’ failure to attend the presidential and vice-presidential debates for the 2022 polls would reflect poorly on them.

“They are unprepared to face public scrutiny which is inherent in public service. They should not be taken seriously therefore as their campaign promises remain empty rhetoric,” Kontra Daya had said. – Rappler.com

Dwight de Leon

Dwight de Leon is a multimedia reporter who covers local government units and the Commission on Elections for Rappler.