MANILA (UPDATE 3) — Nearly all 2022 presidential aspirants from major political parties have said they prefer face-to-face debates on issues ahead of next year's national elections.
The comments of the contenders for the Philippines' top elected post came after the Commission on Elections (Comelec) announced that it would hold more hybrid debates due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
LEODY DE GUZMAN
Partido Lakas ng Masa standard-bearer Leody De Guzman said he is in favor of the face-to-face debates as it would guide voters on who to choose on election day.
"Dapat magharap ang mga kandidato para pag-usapan ang mga solusyon sa mga problema ng masa. Mainam na makita ito ng publiko para gabayan sila sa kanilang pagboto," he told reporters in a message.
(Candidates must be present to discuss solutions to the problems of the masses. It is good for the public to see this to guide them in their voting.)
"Sa katunayan, gustong-gusto natin ito dahil sa ngayon, kami pa lamang ni Walden ang may komprehensibong plataporma. Consistent ang mga tindig natin, may eleksyon man o wala."
(In fact, we love it because so far, Walden and I are the only ones with a comprehensive platform. Our stand is consistent with or without elections.)
RONALD DELA ROSA
Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, who is running under a faction of the ruling PDP-Laban, said he is ready to face his fellow contenders in a debate.
"Okay ako d'yan sa debate (I'm okay to debate)," he told reporters in a text message.
"Lahat sila (presidential contenders) magagaling kaya dapat paghandaan," he said.
(All presidential contenders are good so I have to prepare for it.)
Sen. Panfilo Lacson, the head and standard bearer of Partido para sa Demokratikong Reporma, is also for the holding of a face-to-face presidential debate, with all who are "qualified to run" attending the event.
Issues like qualities necessary in the next leader should be part of the debate, the former police chief said.
Aspirants’ plans on how their would-be administration will resolve the pandemic, address corruption, draw up foreign policy, revive the economy, and tackle the national debt, national security, and budget deficit, should also be discussed, he added.
"In fact, anything that affects the daily lives of Filipinos should be asked and discussed," Lacson said in a text message.
He said presidential aspirants who would take part in that presidential debate should be prepared to clearly draw up their plans before the public.
Aksyon Demokratiko standard bearer and Manila Mayor he and his 2022 slate would join debates sponsored by the Comelec, sayiong these exchanges would be beneficial to voters.
"Pabor sa tao yun dahil malalaman ng tao kung ano ang decision at pananaw ng kandidatong katulad ko at katulad ng mga kasamhan ko," he said on the sidelines of his campaign event in Pampanga.
(That is in favor of the people because the public will know the decisions and views of candidates like me and my colleagues.)
"There's science already to keep everyone safe [from COVID-19]. Kaya na gawin ng Comelec yun (The Comelec can do that) and we will abide with the rules," he said.
It was Sen. Manny Pacquiao who first pushed for the idea of having face-to-face debates during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On the sidelines of his visit to Baguio City and Pangasinan Tuesday, the world boxing icon said he wants a face-to-face exchange with his fellow presidential aspirants.
"Personal, face-to-face. 'Wag online (debate). Ano, natatakot sila (other candidates)? Huwag 'yung online-online ka para magkaalaman,” Pacquiao told journalists.
(Not online. Why? Are they afraid? It should not be online.)
"Maganda 'yung personal. 'Wag 'yung online. Siyempre gusto nila 'yan, 'Ah si Manny Pacquiao, ano kaya isagot n'yan sa debate?'"
(To have the debate in person is better. It should not be done online. Of course, they may be curious: How will Manny Pacquiao answer in debates?)
"Sinasabi ko naman sa inyo, hindi ako papasok dito kung hindi ko alam ang mga gagawin ko," he said.
(I have been telling you that I will not be here if I didn't know what I should be doing.)
Vice President Leni Robredo, the head of the Liberal Party who is running as an independent candidate, is in favor as well of a face-to-face debate, stressing the public’s need to hear where aspirants stand on key issues.
"Tingin ko, dapat face-to-face para ang issues natutuldukan. Kasi mahirap din ang debate sa social media, hindi nabibigyan ng linaw ang issues," Robredo said.
(I think it should be done face-to-face so that issues will be resolved. It's difficult to do a debate on social media because issues cannot be properly addressed.)
Other presidential hopefuls, including former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. and Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso, have yet to comment on the matter.
The Comelec earlier said it is considering to have 3 presidential debates, and another 3 events for vice presidential contenders.