Bongbong to skip final Comelec presidential interview

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 28 2022 11:02 AM | Updated as of Apr 28 2022 03:47 PM

Presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr. greets supporters during a a grand rally at the Lima Commercial Estate along the border of Lipa and Malvar Batangas on April 20, 2022. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News
Presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr. greets supporters during a a grand rally at the Lima Commercial Estate along the border of Lipa and Malvar Batangas on April 20, 2022. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — Former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. is skipping the final Commission on Elections presidential panel interview, saying he wants to focus on his presidential campaign before the May 9 polls.

"With less than 2 weeks before the May 9 elections, frontrunner Ferdinand 'Bongbong' Marcos Jr. has decided to forego his participation in the Comelec's presidential panel interview, which was scheduled on May 1, 2022," his spokesman, Atty. Vic Rodriguez, said in a statement.

Marcos thanked the poll body for its invitation and acknowledged the importance of the event.

"He opted, however, to conclude the entire 90-day campaign period with visits to his supporters and compliances with previous commitments for political events, like town hall meetings and political rallies," Rodriguez added.

Marcos, who is leading in several pre-election surveys, skipped the first 2 Comelec-sponsored debates last March 19 and April 3.

The Marcos camp said he would not participate in debates that only intend to pit candidates against each other, claiming that the public is supposedly tired of "political mudslinging".

'PRESIDENT NEEDS TO ENGAGE'

But political analyst Tony La Viña argued, "A president needs to engage with the people, engage with the media, explain himself, explain his policies, and do so in a way that he can be proved."

"Not just by propaganda, not just by saying things one way—things have to be 2-way, 3-way, 4-way even," he told ANC's Dateline Philippines.

Earlier this week, Marcos told CNN Philippines he would explain issues himself if he became president, while expressing puzzlement at how some reporters were saying they had a hard time getting interviews with him.

He also previously said he was better off campaigning than joining debates to bring his platform to the public.

"Even if he wins by a landslide, even if it's by a huge margin, you cannot just expect people to accept whatever their decisions are without it being explained, without it being debated," La Viña said.

"And if he thinks he can govern on the basis of silence, right, of not communicating to the people, he'll soon know enough, he'll have a reality check that government doesn't work that way and governance does not work that way," he added.

COMELEC INTERVIEW 

The Comelec switched to an interview format instead of holding the last of its 3 debates after it was postponed due to the controversy over a contractor's failure to pay Sofitel for hosting the events.

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Comelec Commissioner George Garcia said the panel interviews with the candidates would be aired on Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) member stations from May 2 to 6.

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Only 2 presidential candidates - Ernesto Abella and Faisal Mangondato - have given their solid assurances that they would participate in the panel interviews as of Thursday morning, according to Comelec spokesman James Jimenez.

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