MANILA — The stage is all set for the Commission on Elections' (Comelec) series of debates for Halalan 2022, the first of which will be held Saturday at the Sofitel Hotel in Pasay City.
On Friday, the Comelec gave reporters a walkthrough of the debate venue at Sofitel's Harbor Garden Tent, the same place where the 8-day filing of certificate of candidacy in October last year was held.
Nine out of 10 presidential candidates have committed to attend Saturday's debate, as survey frontrunner Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. has opted out to meet supporters on the field.
The debate, titled "PiliPinas Debates 2022: The Turning Point," will start at 7 p.m. and is expected to finish around 9 p.m. Broadcast journalist Luchi Cruz-Valdes will moderate.
According to Comelec spokesman James Jimenez, the first debate will center around topics of "pandemic and economy."
Organizers would pick from a pool of 20 questions, some sourced from netizens. But Jimenez said not all 20 questions are expected to be asked.
"Meron tayong pool of 20 questions pero hindi natin nakikitang mauubos lahat 'yon. Hindi ito questionnaire type of debate. The debate will be organic and we will flow according to [how] the candidates are responding," he said.
The debate would be "fluid," but time limits are set as "benchmark," Jimenez added.
- 90 seconds for primary response
- 30 seconds for rebuttal
- 30 seconds for rejoinder
The Comelec reiterated that participants would not be allowed to bring notes on stage.
"Every candidate will have a prep team... Now, hindi porke may prep team, ibig sabihin may coaching. Wala pong ganon... Wala tayong ia-allow na bitbit na notes pag-akyat ng stage, although we will be providing note pads and pens sa podium," Jimenez said.
Comelec commissioner George Garcia said voters should tune in to the debates for them to better scrutinize the candidates.
"Abangan n'yo po itong mga paparating na debate. Ito'y pagkakataon na binibigay sa atin ng Comelec upang mas makilala natin ang ating mga kandidato, malaman natin ang kanilang mga plataporma, anong plano nila sa bansa," Garcia said.
"PiliPinas Debates 2022: The Turning Point" will air on ANC, TeleRadyo, and on ABS-CBN News website and social media accounts.