MANILA - All five presidential candidates confirmed attendance to the Commission on Elections' (Comelec) first leg of presidential debates, the poll commissioner said.

The "PiliPinas Debates 2016" at the Capitol University in Cagayan de Oro (CDO) City is just the first of the three-part presidential debates organized by the poll body and the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP), as well as major TV networks, print dailies and radio stations.

On ANC's Dateline Philippines, Comelec chairman Andres Bautista said the two-hour presidential debates are patterned after the US Republican debates and candidates will be given one minute time cap both for their opening and closing statements.

The debates will also include four rounds of questions tackling topics such as development and poverty, peace and order, track record, constitution, and Mindanao issues. Each speaker will then be given a minute and a half to present their answers for each question and rebuttals from other candidates will follow.

The poll chief defended the time cap set are in accordance with the international best practices and was properly agreed to by all the organizers.

Bautista said voters can participate in the debates with Facebook and Twitter actively involved.

He added, the lead media organizers of the February 21 debates have conducted a crowdsourcing of questions, with meetings held with the Mindanaoans.

The Visayas leg of the debates is set on March 20 at the University of the Philippines Cebu campus, while the last leg is on April 24 and will be held either in Southern or Central Luzon.

A vice presidential debates set on April 10 at the University of Santo Tomas will also be conducted.

Meanwhile, Bautista said he welcomes the opportunity to argue the case filed by an online media platform on the rights to livestream the debates.

He added he was surprised that a case was filed, saying all media companies involved signed the agreement for the conduct of the debates.

"So I'm a bit surprise as to why all of a sudden, this is very clear in the agreement that was signed by the parties, and now they're sort of like blaming me and filing case against me," he said.