MANILA — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) announced Thursday that their first presidential debate for Halalan 2022 is scheduled on March 19, adding that all 10 candidates would join.
In an ambush interview, Comelec spokesman James Jimenez told reporters that all presidential candidates agreed to participate in the debate.
"Thus far, we have commitments from all campaigns that their candidates will be joining us," Jimenez said.
"We’re working on getting their commitment in writing... Right now their answers are all in the affirmative that they will be joining," Jimenez added.
The 10 presidential candidates in the Comelec ballot are:
• Former presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella
• Labor leader Leody de Guzman
• Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso
• Former Defense secretary Norberto Gonzales
• Senator Ping Lacson
• Faisal Mangondato
• Former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.
• Jose Montemayor Jr.
• Senator Manny Pacquiao
• Vice President Leni Robredo
The camp of Marcos denied, though, that it already agreed to join the engagement.
Marcos, a frontrunner in latest pre-election surveys, has skipped an interview and forum organized recently for the 2022 presidential aspirants.
His spokesman, Vic Rodriguez, said in a statement that the participation of the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas standard-bearer "will only be confirmed if his hectic campaign schedules permit.”
Following the statement of Rodriguez, Jimenez said on Twitter that the camp of Marcos has conveyed the latter's "readiness to participate" in the debate, and that "if more confirmation is needed, the COMELEC awaits the same with bated breath."
The format of the March 19 debate would be "single moderator."
Participants would be given the “general topics” to be covered but not the specific questions, Jimenez said.
Candidates would also be prohibited from bringing "kodigos" or notes in the podium, but would be provided a notepad and a pen.
"We will not allow candidates to bring anything on stage. We will provide them with a pad and a pen on the podium, but they will not be able to bring notes to the debate," Jimenez said.
During a 2016 presidential debate, candidate Mar Roxas objected when Jejomar Binay brought his notes on stage.
Jimenez said the debate will be broadcast live, but there will be no live audience allowed.
"It will be free for everyone to broadcast. We will be producing the show itself including the feed. It will be coming from the Comelec so puwede kayo kumuha ng feed from the Comelec’s production," Jimenez said.
—With reports from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News