Clash of wits, high passions: Comelec revamps presidential debate format

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 30 2022 01:41 PM | Updated as of Mar 30 2022 05:02 PM

Presidential candidates pose for a group photo moments before the start of COMELEC’s official debates held at the Sofitel Tent in Pasay City on March 19, 2022. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News
Presidential candidates pose for a group photo moments before the start of COMELEC’s official debates held at the Sofitel Tent in Pasay City on March 19, 2022. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) said Wednesday it made changes in the format of its second presidential debate scheduled this weekend.

"There will be changes in the debate format this Sunday. Expect more clash of wits and the passions will be high among themselves," Commissioner George Garcia told reporters.

The first presidential and vice presidential debate, held on March 19 and 20, focused on COVID-19 and the economy.

Candidates were given 90 seconds for their preliminary statements, 30 seconds for rebuttals, and 30 seconds for rejoinders. They also drew lots to determine who would answer first, and after the first candidate answered, the rest followed in alphabetical order.

The previous debates, held at the Sofitel Manila in Pasay, lasted for around 2 and a half hours.

"Mas magiging exciting ang debate, tutukan niyo po. Mas magkakaroon ng oportunidad na makapagtalakayan ang debatista," said Vote Pilipinas founder Ces Rondario.

(The debate will be more exciting, tune in. There will be more opportunities for discussion among debate participants.) 

There was no live audience during the past debates but each candidate was allowed 10 companions.

Garcia said more media personnel would be allowed inside the venue for the upcoming debate.

Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. was the only presidential candidate who skipped the first Comelec debate. 

The poll body will hold a press briefing on Thursday to discuss the new debate format.

— Report from RG Cruz and Jacque Manabat, ABS-CBN News