THE Commission on Elections set the presidential debate on March 19.
Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said and all the 10 candidates have confirmed their attendance.
Jimenez said the presidential candidates for the May 9 polls are former presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella, Leody de Guzman, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso, former Defense chief Norberto Gonzales, Senator Ping Lacson, Faisal Mangondato, former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., Jose Montemayor Jr., Senator Manny Pacquiao, and Vice President Leni Robredo.
Marcos’ camp questioned the announcement, saying there had been no confirmation yet from them.
Jimenez said candidates will not be given questions in advance and will not be allowed to bring anything to the podium.
He added there will be three debates to be sponsored by the Comelec.
The spokesman said the law does not require candidates’ participation in public debates, and that the poll body cannot oblige the candidates to show up.
The Comelec, however, will “make a big deal” out of the absence of a candidate and will leave the podium assigned to him or her empty to highlight it.
Jimenez noted that the decision of certain aspirants to skip various pre-election forums may be a “red flag” for voters.
The campaign period for Eleksyon 2022 candidates running for national positions officially started on Feb. 8 amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.