MANILA – Desiring for voters to get to know more and examine their presidential bets, the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) has been considering holding presidential debates.
“We will be taking the lead insofar as the presidential debate. That is provided for under the law,” COMELEC Chairman Andres Bautista said in a Manila Bulletin report.
“Nakalagay na sa law eh, ‘yung three debates. It has to be during the campaign period. So baka mga February pa ‘yun, but we’re coming up with the rules and regulations. We hope to team up with media,” he added.
(It’s already in the law, the three debates. It has to be during the campaign period. So maybe it will be by February, but we’re coming up with the rules and regulations. We hope to team up with the media.)
Bautista referred to Republic Act No. 9006 or the Fair Elections Act which allowed the Comelec to conduct ‘at least three (3) national debates among presidential candidates and at least one (1) national debate among vice presidential candidates.’
‘The debates among presidential candidates shall be scheduled on three (3) different calendar days: the first debate shall be scheduled within the first and second week of the campaign period; the second debate within the fifth and six week of the campaign period; and the third debate shall be scheduled within the tenth and eleventh week of the campaign period.’
‘The COMELEC shall promulgate rules and regulations for the holding of such debates’ but it may ‘may require national television and radio networks to sponsor’ the said debates then ‘sell airtime for commercials to interested advertisers.’
According to Bautista, a technical working group (TWG) has already been formed to look into the possibility of a debate. They have also planned partnering with the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP).
The COMELEC last held a presidential debate in 2002.
Meanwhile, the COMELEC claimed that they received positive feedback from voters regarding their proposal to set up polling precincts in malls near voting centers for a better voting experience.
“So far out of the 400 respondents, 83 percent expressed preference to vote in a mall,” Bautista said in the same report, citing an online survey they recently conducted.
“Basically, the mall will give us access and its unlimited access to that place for so many days. That’s part and parcel of the agreement,” he added.
Another TWG has also been formed to look into the possibility of mall-based voting.