MANILA (UPDATE) — Only 2 out of 10 presidential candidates have confirmed their participation in the Commission on Elections (Comelec) panel interview hours before the deadline on Thursday.
Comelec Commissioner George Garcia declined to name the 2 candidates who would join the interview that would be aired from May 2 to 6. Their rivals have until 5 p.m. to confirm their participation, he said.
"Mayroon na pong nag-confirm sa atin na dalawa subalit hindi muna natin iri-reveal iyong mga pangalan po nila," Garcia said in a public briefing.
(Two candidates have confirmed to us, but we will not reveal their names yet.)
"Kahit lahat sila ay umattend at kahit ang iba ay hindi maka-attend ay tuloy na tuloy na ipapalabas natin ang interview sa kanila, kahit yun ay 3 lamang, 4 lamang, tuloy po para fair sa lahat," he added.
(Even if all of them will attend or not, we will push through with the interviews. Even if we only have 3 or 4 candidates, it will go ahead so that it would be fair to everyone.)
The poll body organized the interview with the help of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas after the last of 3 presidential debates was cancelled due to contractor Impact Hub Manila's alleged failure to pay Sofitel for hosting the event.
For his part, KBP President Herman Basbaño said that the interviews are still important for voters despite its last-minute preparations.
“Even up to the last minute [and] last second of the campaign, anything that they’ll say will be relevant to the voters, who’d be more interested in what will come out in the last hours of the campaign,” Basbaño said in an ANC interview.
“This format is suited for the situation where we were given a tight schedule. We’re under time constraints,” he added.
Basbaño noted that compared to the previous debate format, the panel interviews will be advantageous for candidates, given that Filipino voters may change their minds at the last minute.
Only former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr's camp so far announced that he would skip the interview. He was also a no-show at the Comelec debates.
Garcia said the Comelec would adjust for candidates and could hold the interview in KBP stations near their campaign sorties.
"Kung hindi man po, sana sa virtual taping o kaya advanced tape ang aming gagawin."
(If they cannot do it, I hope they will be available through virtual taping or advanced taping.)
“We still have several hours for him [Marcos] to change his mind,” Basbaño said.