Virtual debate of mayoral, gubernatorial aspirants in Negros Occidental, Bacolod to push thru Jan. 15
BACOLOD CITY — The virtual debate of the Bacolod mayoral and Negros Occidental gubernatorial aspirants will push through on Saturday.
The University of the Philippines Law Alumni Association – Negros Occidental (UPLAA-NO) Chapter said the debate would be held virtually as a health precaution amid the surge in COVID-19 cases.
The Inter-Agency Task Force on Wednesday elevated Bacolod City to Alert Level 3.
UPLAA-NO, the debate organizing committee, issued the statement in response to the call of the camp of Mayor Evelio Leonardia for a face-to-face debate instead.
“Debate Eleksyon 2022” between Bacolod mayoral aspirants Leonardia and Albee Benitez, and gubernatorial bets Eugenio Jose Lacson, Juan Orola Jr., and Ma Socorro Sibulan, is set from 10 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. on Saturday via zoom and will be aired live on UPLAA-NO, University of Saint La Salle, Inquirer.net, and INQ Plus Facebook pages.
Leonardia was pushing for an in-person discussion of issues with his rival. Benitez, on the other hand, said he was “ready any time, anywhere to face anyone” in whatever format to discuss problems and concerns for the improvement of Bacolod, especially the welfare of Bacolodnons.
He was invited to the debate by the organizers whose only intention was to provide voters’ education.
Benitez said he would follow the format and mechanics of the debate organizers.
In the light of the rising COVID-19 cases, the organizers felt it was more prudent to go virtual.
Governor Lacson would also join the debate, saying he was prepared for this two years ago, said Provincial Administrator Rayfrando Diaz.
Leonardia’s camp was objecting to a virtual debate, pointing out that his rival might be aided by a teleprompter or employ a team that will prompt him how to give his responses.
“We will certainly attend the debate. But we want the rules to be fair and square,” Leonardia’s group said.
“We do not question the impartiality in the crafting of debate rules. We also don’t want to pay attention to observations made by some quarters that there appears to be a bias here in favor of the rival,” it added.
UPLAA-NO, said in response: ”We also wish to convey to you that we take exception to sly and baseless imputations of unfairness and bias against the organizing institutions.”
“We hope you appreciate the efforts we are making here in organizing this event and accord us the respect due us,” it added.
This first-ever virtual town hall debate was organized to elevate discussions around issues and provide a platform for candidates to make known their positions on various issues, among others.
“We believe that our virtual debate on Saturday will be one of the many debates and face-offs that the local candidates will have. Should circumstances positively change, we would be happy to support a face-to-face debate that may be organized in the future,” UPLAA-NO said.
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