MANILA – With the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) planning to hold a presidential debate, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) saw this as an opportunity for voters to ‘gauge the candidates and help them make informed choices in picking our next leaders.’
The CBCP only hoped that this debate would be used by presidential candidates to present their stands on several issues the Philippines have been facing.
“It shouldn’t be a mere free-wheeling presentation of their platforms that will simply be rebutted by the others,” CBCP Public Affairs Committee executive secretary Fr. Jerome Secillano said in an interview.
The CBCP also hoped that the candidates would not present accusations against each other but rather talk about the Bangsamoro Basic Law, Anti-Political Dynasty bill, Freedom of Information bill, K to12 education program, among others.
“This way, they will not only be hurling stones at each other but they will be able to present their stand on issues affecting our people,” Secillano said.
“Qualities such as honesty, integrity and credibility are values that are hardly seen in debates,” he added, urging voters to look for these qualities in the candidates they would support.
Just like the CBCP, the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) also saw the presidential debate as an opportunity for voters to examine their presidential bets.
“PPCRV hopes that such debates include all, even the less known candidates, and that other groups like PPCRV, academe, business, etc be involved,” PPCRV national chairperson Henrietta de Villa said.
“PPCRV hopes that such debates include all, even the less known candidates, and that other groups like PPCRV, academe, business, etc be involved,” she added.
It can be recalled that COMELEC Chairman Andres Bautista earlier disclosed considering to hold a presidential debate for next year’s national elections.
“We will be taking the lead insofar as the presidential debate. That is provided for under the law,” Bautista said in a Manila Bulletin report.
He 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.’