PDI, GMA 7 to host first presidential debate
THE PHILIPPINE Daily Inquirer and its election partner, GMA 7, will hold on Feb. 21 in Mindanao the first presidential debate of the 2016 polls.
That debate will tackle issues centered on peace and order, poverty reduction, agriculture and Charter change.
In a brief ceremony Monday, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) drew lots to determine which media entities will host the debates for presidential and vice presidential candidates in Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao and Metro Manila.
The Inquirer and GMA 7 were designated to host the first debate. Philippine Star and TV5 will moderate the second presidential debate in the Visayas on March 20.
Manila Bulletin and ABS-CBN will handle the last debate among presidential contenders in Luzon on April 24.
The only debate for vice presidential aspirants will be hosted by CNN Philippines and Business Mirror in Metro Manila on April 10.
“They will let us know which city and which university they will be partnering with. It’s a dual moderator format,” said Comelec Chair Andres Bautista, who oversaw the drawing of lots.
It was agreed earlier that the debate in Mindanao will tackle issues on agriculture development, poverty reduction and asset creation and redistribution, Charter change and peace and order.
The debate in the Visayas will center on disaster preparedness, climate change adaptation, fighting corruption, healthcare and education.
Chance to help voters
Topics in the Luzon leg will involve traffic and public transportation issues, electoral and political reforms, foreign policy, national defense and taxation.
The Comelec is pursuing the series of debates to allow candidates for President and Vice President to discuss their platforms of government and provide an avenue for voters to assess their chosen candidates.
Bautista has said the candidates have the option to participate in the debate or pass up the opportunity to be heard.
“We will not force anybody to join the debates,” the Comelec chief said.
“Not yet officially but all of them welcomed the idea of a national debate,” he later said when asked if the presidential aspirants confirmed attendance in the debate.
Among the presidential aspirants, only Liberal Party standard-bearer Mar Roxas and United Nationalist Alliance’s Jejomar Binay have expressed their intention, through their social media arms, to join the debates, according to Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez.
“Mar and Binay’s social media campaigns have confirmed their candidates’ willingness to [participate]. The rest, not a whimper,” Jimenez said in a text message to the Inquirer.