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The Commission on Elections confirmed Monday that debates among presidential and vice presidential candidates for the 2016 elections will push through, and might start as early as February.
"Malinaw po sa Commision na gagawin po natin ito," James Jimenez, spokesperson of Comelec, said in a phone interview with Balitanghali.
"Medyo maganda 'yung feedback ng publiko din naman natin, so balak natin gawin na Luzon, Visayas at Mindanao itong debate na 'to. So tatlong presidential debate at isang vice presidential debate. Pinag-uusapan ngayon 'yung format na gagamitin," he said.
The last debate was hosted in 1992, but according to Jimenez, it had been challenging to compel candidates to participate.
To prevent experiencing the same problems in the upcoming debate, the Comelec is considering proposing an amendment for the elections, the report said.
"Ang sa pagkakaalam po namin, maaari tayo sigurong mag-propose ng amendment sa election (law) daw, pero pinag-aaralan pa po 'yun," Jimenez said. "Kung hindi naman mangyari 'yun ay itutuloy pa rin po natin pero aasa po tayo sa public demand. Siyempre 'yung publiko medyo gutom na rin sa debate at sana maipalutang natin 'yung ganung klaseng clamor para 'yung mga kandidato magkusa na rin na sumali po."
The Comelec debate will be an opportunity for the public to learn more about the candidates they're voting for, and for the latter to speak out about the issues surrounding their candidacy. The debates will be scheduled within the campaign period.
"Siguro po ang first debate natin will be in February. Basically, susundin po natin 'yung schedule na nakalagay sa batas, which means three times during the campaign period," Jimenez said.
The budget for the debates is yet to be clarified, but the more pressing issue is the venue.
"Hahanapan po natin ng budget, pero sa tingin natin hindi 'to magiging ganun kalaki, dahil ang pinag-uusapan lang naman talaga dito, venue lang naman eh. A venue for people to come," Jimenez explained. "'Yung usaping budget icla-clarify pa natin 'yan."
"Sa tingin po natin, magkakasya 'yan sa ating voter education budget," he said. —Jessica Bartolome/KG, GMA News