Bill seeks to require candidates to join Comelec debates
Siquijor Rep. Ramon “Rav” Rocamora filed on Tuesday a bill seeking to require national and local election candidates to participate in debates organized by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
Rocamora said he filed House Bill No. 8549 “to ensure that voters are given sufficient information on the plans of the candidates and to assess the quality of leadership that these candidates wish to offer.”
“I believe the bill, if approved, will be a major piece of legislation, which will enhance our democratic election process,” he said. “By requiring election debates, we afford the voting public the chance to scrutinize the candidates. This is part of ushering in better quality of elections, from the campaigning down to the vote itself.”
The bill also seeks to make absence in a debate an election offense and ground for disqualification, except in cases of hospital confinement, temporary detention, or similar grounds that prevent their attendance.
HB 8549 further mandates the Comelec to organize the debates together with at least three civic organizations or people’s organizations.
The time, date, venue and the rules of the debates is to be agreed upon together with the candidates or their representatives.
The debates, it added, must also include a discussion of the priority projects and programs of the candidates and their stand on the most pressing local and national issues affecting their constituencies. /atm
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