De Lima to Comelec: There’s still time for Otso-Hugpong debate
MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) should reconsider its decision not to organize a debate between opposition coalition Otso Diretso senatorial candidate and rivals from the pro-administration Hugpong ng Pagbabago, detained Senator Leila de Lima said Monday.
She stressed that debates are important, especially with the proliferation of fake news.
“As the constitutional body mandated to conduct clean and honest elections, one of its tasks is also to assure a well-informed electorate by the time the ballots are cast on election day,” De Lima said in a statement.
“An organized debate is one of the more reliable ways for the candidates to show their readiness for public office, and for the voters to test the candidates’ qualifications for the position they are running for,” she added.
De Lima argued that the public could not simply rely on campaign advertisements and propaganda.
She said that these forms of campaigning are not enough to educate voters as in terms of track record, platform, and programs of the candidates.
“The Comelec should realize that now, more than ever, organized debates among national candidates are important to expose the lies and fake credentials being peddled in social media by unscrupulous candidates,” De Lima said.
“In the age of fake news and historical revisionism, those with a record of dishonesty, corruption or incompetence, and who have come to rely on the short memories of the Filipinos to forget, should not be allowed to succeed,” she added.
Comelec recently denied the request of the Otso Diretso candidates to have an organized debate with their rivals from HNP, citing time constraints.
But De Lima argued that the poll body can still organize a debate given its resources.
“Contrary to its own pronouncement, it is not impossible for the Comelec to come up with the energy and the resources to organize senatorial debates at this point,” she said.
“The constitutional body is composed of hard-working and competent officials and rank-and-file employees who do not usually shirk from the challenges and demands of running nationwide elections,” De Lima added. / gsg
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