Comelec considers imposing ‘reasonable’ sanction for debate skippers

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MANILA – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) announced on Tuesday that it may implement a reasonable sanction on candidates who refuse to participate in its debates.

“But, the (Comelec) en banc will still study it, the en banc will discuss it and you can hope that when your en banc makes a decision, it will be reasonable and appropriate to the extent that it needs to be adjusted,” Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said in a Laging Handa briefing on Tuesday.

This, as some groups have urged the poll body to levy harsher sanctions on candidates who fail to show up at debates it has hosted, in addition to prohibiting them from using the poll body’s online rally platforms.

Meanwhile, Jimenez emphasized the significance of the debates as an avenue for candidates to share their platforms of government and aspirations for the country and to foster an informed electorate.

“Now, to let the candidates know, they will feel that this is an important part of their campaign, we put a small penalty. It’s small, it’s only a penalty that affects an innovation that the Comelec itself introduced, we don’t ban your campaigns or anything like that. It’s just that we want to make sure it’s clear to the candidates and everyone that we take this debate seriously,” Jimenez added.

Poll body chairperson Saidamen Pangarungan earlier said they will tackle other possible sanctions to national candidates who will skip the succeeding episodes of the “PiliPinas Debates 2022” during their en banc session this week.

The poll body conducted the first of a series of presidential and vice-presidential debates over the weekend at the Sofitel Harbor Tent in Pasay City.

Among the presidential candidates, only former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. skipped the presidential debate on March 19, which was attended by Dr. Jose Montemayor Jr., businessman Faisal Mangondato, Senator Panfilo Lacson, labor leader Leody de Guzman, former national security adviser Norberto Gonzales, former presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella, Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso, Vice President Leni Robredo and Senator Emmanuel Pacquiao.

Meanwhile, Marcos’ running mate, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, also did not attend the vice-presidential debate on March 20, which was participated by Walden Bello, Rizalito David, Manny Lopez, Dr. Willie Ong, Senator Francis Pangilinan, Carlos Serapio, and Senate President Vicente Sotto III.

Due to medical reasons, Former Manila mayor Lito Atienza also skipped the vice-presidential debate.

House committees to hold hearings during break

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Spread the loveMANILA – The House of Representatives has authorized for its committees to conduct hearings during the five-week congressional break, extending until late April.