Thu. May 26th, 2022

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Tuesday said it may impose a “reasonable” sanction on candidates who will skip its debates.

(pna.gov.ph)

“But, the (Comelec) en banc will still study it, the en banc will discuss it and you can hope that when your en banc makes a decision, it will be reasonable and appropriate to the extent that it needs to be adjusted,” Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said in a Laging Handa briefing on Tuesday.

This came as some groups called on the poll body to impose stiffer penalties on candidates who will not show up at the debates it has organized, aside from banning them from using its online rally platforms.

Jimenez, meanwhile, stressed the importance of the debates as an avenue for candidates to share their platforms of government and aspirations for the country and to foster an informed electorate.

“Now, to let the candidates know, they will feel that this is an important part of their campaign, we put a small penalty. It’s small, it’s only a penalty that affects an innovation that the Comelec itself introduced, we don’t ban your campaigns or anything like that. It’s just that we want to make sure it’s clear to the candidates and everyone that we take this debate seriously,” Jimenez added.

Earlier, poll body chairperson Saidamen Pangarungan said they will discuss other possible sanctions to national candidates who will skip the succeeding episodes of the “PiliPinas Debates 2022” during their en banc session this week.

Over the weekend, the poll body held the first of a series of presidential and vice-presidential debates at the Sofitel Harbor Tent in Pasay City.

Only former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. skipped the presidential debate on March 19, which was attended by Dr. Jose Montemayor Jr., businessman Faisal Mangondato, Senator Panfilo Lacson, labor leader Leody de Guzman, former national security adviser Norberto Gonzales, former presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella, Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso, Vice President Leni Robredo and Senator Emmanuel Pacquiao.

Meanwhile, Marcos’ running mate Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte also skipped the March 20 vice presidential debate which was attended by Walden Bello, Rizalito David, Manny Lopez, Dr. Willie Ong, Senator Francis Pangilinan, Carlos Serapio, and Senate President Vicente Sotto III.

Former Manila mayor Lito Atienza also skipped the vice presidential debate due to medical reasons.

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