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Empty mic for debate skivers



The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Wednesday announced its plan to organize a debate among the presidential and vice-presidential aspirants.

Those who’ll refuse will suffer the ignominy of seeing his podium blank, empty and lonely.

The debates will be set sometime in February Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said in a virtual media event.

More debates would be held in March and April, he shared, to culminate the campaign season for the 9 May 2022 elections. Venues in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao will host the events.

These parleys will be open to media coverage, he said.

“The participation of media will be open, meaning — at every debate, all media is invited. All media have the chance to watch and cover and may air the debates on their respective platforms,” Jimenez said.

In the past debates, only one broadcast station was allowed to air the program while other stations hooked up.

The Comelec will discuss the new guidelines with the aspirants soon.

“We are going to start with the candidate negotiations very soon. We already have a draft memorandum of agreement that we will then share with different candidates for them to agree to, or for them to amend,” he said.

“We want a set of guidelines, a set of rules that is acceptable to all candidates to avoid questions that happened in the previous debates,” Jimenez added.

No venue is being tapped for the event yet. Health protocols, however, will be observed.

While the aspirants will not be required to join the debates, Jimenez disclosed that the poll body will leave the podium empty if an aspirant does not take part in the process.

“If a candidate refuses to attend, their podium will remain empty. So, we will make a big deal of the fact that they are not there. So, I guess for a campaigner that could be a huge motivation to actually attend so we are pretty confident that they will attend,” Jimenez said.

Meanwhile, the poll body will raffle off slots for the e-rally channel which will be held on Friday, 28 January.