UNA wants longer presidential debate
A LONGER presidential debate would give a wider picture of candidates running in the May elections.
The United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) raised this argument as it was considering asking the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to give presidential candidates more time to present their platforms in the next two presidential debates.
UNA spokesperson Mon Ilagan yesterday said the party was thinking of drafting a letter to the Comelec after UNA standard-bearer and Vice President Jejomar Binay earlier called for longer presidential debates organized by the Comelec in cooperation with media organizations.
Binay said time constraints kept the candidates from discussing their points at length during the first of a series of presidential debates held on Feb. 21 in Cagayan de Oro City.
There are two other presidential debates being organized by the Comelec—one in Cebu City on March 20 and the other in Pangasinan in April.
“I think this (presidential debate) is one occasion for the candidates to say what they can do for the people, and not engage in mudslinging, vilification and speak on issues that are below the belt,” Ilagan told reporters on the sidelines of a forum at the Chinese General Hospital and Medical Center in Manila, which was attended by Binay and UNA candidates.
UNA president and Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco said he had already drafted the letter but he was still thinking of ways to give presidential candidates extra minutes to speak.
Tiangco, in a phone interview, said that under the Fair Elections Act, media organizations can air commercials during presidential debates.
But since the Comelec had already promulgated the rules on the presidential debates, he said the poll body could no longer change the rules limiting the TV commercials of media organizations hosting the next two debates.
For the presidential candidates to be able to get extra minutes, Tiangco said the Comelec’s media partners could volunteer to limit their commercial load.
“It will be better for the voting public if all the candidates are given more time to speak,” he said.
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