Comelec on debate skippers: 'Empty chairs speak for themselves'

Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 25 2022 06:42 PM

MANILA — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Tuesday said it is finalizing a memorandum of agreement pertaining to the conduct of presidential and vice-presidential debates it will sponsor when the official national campaign period begins in February.

Comelec spokesman Director James Jimenez said the poll body is confident all candidates will attend the exercise.

"We have yet to get firm commitment. I think in general, we have high expectations for all candidates to actually attend," Jimenez said. 

"As far as commitment to attend or to participate, we don’t have that yet either, not in writing, but we are confident we will have all the candidates attend the debates," Jimenez adds. 

The Comelec was sought for comment on the implication or message of candidates not attending debates sponsored by various organizations.

Asked what it would mean if a candidate refuses to participate in the debates, Jimenez said: "We will let the empty chairs speak for themselves."

Participation in any sponsored debate remains a choice of the candidates, and is not a ground for adverse action.

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