MANILA—Presidential candidate Miriam Defensor Santiago said that she will not be attending the next Commission on Elections (Comelec) debate scheduled on Sunday after being accepted as fit to undergo a clinical trial for a new, unnamed anti-cancer pill.
Santiago said she joined the international clinical trial to gain free access to the medication, which would otherwise cost reportedly half a million pesos every three weeks. The trial requires Santiago to report for outpatient radiation treatment at the hospital daily for a short period.
The senator said she would try and participate in the third and last presidential debate if the ongoing treatments do not inhibit her.
“I am very sorry to miss out on the debates, but it would be a disservice to the country if I forego the opportunity to get rid of my cancer completely and strengthen myself further to serve the Filipino people,” Santiago said in a press statement.
Prior to her announcement, the senator, who was diagnosed with lung cancer, stage four, in June 2014, has delivered speeches in several universities around the country, banking on her popularity among the youth to buoy her presidential bid.
In all her campus speeches, Santiago urged millennial voters to vote for candidates with academic, professional, and moral excellence. She also asks the youth to campaign for her recalling the massive impact of youth volunteers in her 1992 run.
Santiago has been dubbed the “president of campuses,” having topped several university surveys conducted since the filing of certificates of candidacy in October.
Santiago has also previously said that her campaign will bank heavily on her strong social media base. With some 3.4 million followers on Facebook and some 2.4 million on Twitter, Santiago has the biggest social media clout among the presidential candidates.