Tañada wants law penalizing election candidates skipping debates
MANILA, Philippines — Former Deputy Speaker Erin Tañada said that he will support the crafting of a law which will penalize national election candidates who would skip debates sanctioned by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and religious groups.
The senatorial candidate’s statement on Sunday came amid the decision of several members of the Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) slate to shun the debate challenge made by the Otso Diretso candidates.
“This is but a mere extension of my long-held principle that the people have the right to be informed on matters of public concern. They have the right to know if they are making an informed choice during the election,” Tañada explained.
“When a candidate offers himself to be of service to the people, he or she must be ready to articulate his platform, have his track record scrutinized and be ready to be questioned on his stand on issues,” he added.
Tañada also noted that if he would have it his way, he would ban posters and television ads to help the environment and to level the playing ground for rich and poor candidates.
“Public debates should show the stuff the candidate is made of. In fact, I would go to the extent of banning posters, as it is harmful to the environment, and even TV ads as only the rich can afford it,” he said.
“Let public debates be the main vehicle for getting to know the candidate and this should apply to all local and national aspirants,” he added.
Previously, Otso Diretso bets dared HNP to a debate on Monday noon at Plaza Miranda.
Organizers from Otso Diretso said that candidates Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano, human rights lawyer Chel Diokno, former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, election lawyer Romy Macalintal, and Tañada would be present today, with or without their counterparts.
It is unclear whether HNP would attend, especially since they have scheduled sorties in Meycauyan, Bulacan and Valenzuela City on the same date. /je
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