Otso candidates ask Comelec to arrange debate with Hugpong rivals
Senatorial candidates of the opposition coalition Otso Diretso on Thursday asked the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to facilitate a public debate between them and candidates of the administration-backed Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP).
In a letter to Comelec Chair Sheriff Abas, the Otso Diretso candidates also requested the poll body to set up or provide rules to govern the debate.
Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano, Samira Gutoc, former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, election lawyer Romulo Macalintal and former Rep. Erin Tañada filed the request.
The slate’s appeal to the Comelec, they said, was in accordance with HNP’s response to their challenge for them to find a third-party organizer for a debate.
“Hence, this request considering the independence and impartiality of the Comelec in the conduct of elections,” Otso Diretso said.
It stressed that the debate was vital in empowering voters to make informed choices come Election Day.
“Debates provide an avenue for voters to understand issues, and the values and character of the people who are courting their votes,” Otso Diretso said.
Charging that the administration candidates are associated with confusing issues, Macalintal said he hoped HNP would agree to the debate, once approved by the Comelec, so that the people would know the candidates’ position on issues.
“How come we don’t hear them tackle the TRAIN (Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion) law in their campaign? They are the ones who passed that,” Macalintal said.
Alejano said the voters should be given correct information about the candidates and their stand on pressing national issues.
Other issues that may be discussed in the debates, according to Otso Diretso, are foreign presence in local waters, unsolved murders, corruption and cronyism, and massive unemployment and the influx of foreign workers.
HNP can add other matters it would want to tackle, it said.
“No debate, no Senate,” Otso Diretso said.
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