MANILA (UPDATE)—Presidential candidate Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. will not join the PanataSaBayan KBPForum this Friday, February 4, due to conflict in schedule, KBP President Herman Basbaño said.
Speaking to TeleRadyo, Basbaño said the KBP sent invites to 6 presidential candidates in early December even before the Commission on Elections had finalized its list.
Only 5 candidates - Leody de Guzman, Senators Panfilo Lacson and Manny Pacquiao, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, and Vice President Leni Robredo - accepted the invitation.
"May letter naman sila declining the invitation. May conflicts sa schedules nila," he said.
Marcos' camp said the presidential aspirant turned down the KBP forum as "his current schedules prevent us from accommodating your request."
"We extend our gratitude to the Kapisanan ng mga Broadcaster ng Pilipinas for inviting presidential aspirant Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. to join its forum," lawyer Victor Rodriguez said in a statement.
"Although we have been looking forward for BBM’s participation in this event, his current schedules prevent us from accommodating your request."
"We look forward to engaging with similar KBP initiatives in the future," he added.
This is not the first time that Marcos skipped a forum ahead of the May 2022 elections.
The son and namesake of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos is also facing a possibility of disqualification, stemming from his previous conviction of tax evasion.
The ruling on the petitions for disqualification are still pending before the Commission on Elections' First Division.
Marcos, 64, has been dodging questions about a brutal era of martial law that started 7 years into his father's 1965-1986 rule, touting instead a message of unity.
"What questions are going to be asked that have not been asked? And how many answers do you have to give that have not been given before?" Marcos told One News television, appearing exasperated by an interview question.
"Nothing is going to change."
—With a report from Reuters