Isko 'OK to attend' final Comelec debate

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 22 2022 11:50 PM

Presidential candidate Mayor Isko Moreno ABS-CBN News
Presidential candidate Mayor Isko Moreno during the second Commission on Elections’ #PilipinasDebates2022: The Turning Point at the Sofitel Tent in Pasay City on April 3, 2022. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Aksyon Demokratiko standard bearer Isko Moreno Domagoso on Friday said he is "okay to attend" the final presidential debate sanctioned by the Commission on Elections (Comelec), but would have to check his campaign schedule.

He has committed to visit 2 provinces on the new debate dates, Domagoso told reporters on the sidelines of a campaign event in Caloocan.

"We are okay to attend, but for now I cannot say specifics," he said.

"Naka-schedule na so yun ang aming tinitingnan kung paano kami makakapag-adjust," he said.

(That has been scheduled already so we will have to check how we can adjust.)

The Comelec earlier announced the postponement of its April 23 and 24 presidential and vice presidential debates after Impact Hub - a company tapped by the Commission to organize its series of election debates - failed to settle a P14-million debt to Sofitel Philippine Plaza, the venue of the events.

A letter from Sofitel stated that under their contract, Impact hub Manila committed to pay a total of P20.59 million in 4 tranches on March 16, March 30, April 15 and April 20 for the entire series of debates.

"Despite fulfilling its obligations under the event contract, and despite its entitlement to full payment by today, our client has not received the proceeds of the following postdated checks, which have a combined value of P14,095,000," the company said through its lawyers.

The Comelec has moved the last leg of the debates to on April 30 and May 1, and tapped the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) to help them mount the events.

"Nalulungkot tayo na nagkaroon sila ng aberya... But siguro over the weekend makakaluha tayo ng balita mula sa campaign team ng Aksyon Demokratiko [if we are going to attend]," Domagoso said.

"We will try our best."

Other presidential candidates have announced that they would likely skip the final installment of the "PiliPinas 2022" debates.

“Ako it doesn't matter, I have proven myself in the last two presidential debates and other forums so it won't affect me that much," presidential candidate Sen. Panfilo Lacson said.

"'Yung mga naghahabol para ipakita ang kanilang kakayahan sa debates, 'yun ang dapat manghinayang. Baka ngayon mag-ready sila, makapag-prepare better. But in my case I think I have proven enough,” he said.

(It doesn't matter to me. I have proven myself in the last two presidential debates and other forums so it won't affect me that much. Those who are trying to catch up to prove themselves in the debates should feel disappointed. But now they can prepare better.)

PROMDI standard bearer Sen. Manny Pacquiao said he would attend the last Comelec debate only if presidential race frontrunner and former Sen. Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. would show up.

"Magandang optic kasi 'yun na makita ng taumbayan na kompleto kaming mga kandidato na nandun sa nag-participate sa isang imbitasyon ng debate," Pacquiao said on the sidelines of his campaign sortie in Bohol province.

(It's good optics if the public sees that the candidates are complete and accepted the invitation to the debate.) 

Marcos Jr. has not attended a single Comelec-sponsored presidential debate.

Lito Banayo, Domagoso's chief strategist, called Marcos Jr.'s consistent debate snub as "'obfuscatory tactics" that have been shielding the son of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos from answering controversial questions, such as his family's P203-billion estate tax debt.