VP candidate Atienza to skip CNNPH debate for surgery

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 16) — Vice presidential candidate Lito Atienza has begged off from the upcoming debate hosted by CNN Philippines despite his previous confirmation.

In a letter dated Tuesday, the deputy speaker said he figured in an accident days before their proclamation rally last Feb. 8. He said he was advised by his doctor to undergo knee replacement surgery as soon as possible.

"In this regard, we regret to inform you that we have to cancel our participation in your upcoming debate and other commitments related to the campaign until after the procedure is completed," Atienza said.

Seven of the nine VP bets have confirmed that they will join the debate. Former congressman Walden Bello, Manny SD Lopez, Rizalito David, Sen. Kiko Pangilinan, Carlos Serapio, Senate President Tito Sotto, and Willie Ong have committed to be present, while Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte earlier said she can't attend without providing an explanation.

RELATED: Presidential candidates, VP bets confirm attendance to CNN Philippines debates

CNN Philippines will host the presidential debate on Feb. 27, while the vice presidential debate will be held on Feb. 26. Moderated by CNN Philippines anchors, both debates will be held at the University of Santo Tomas from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. with the candidates attending live in front of a virtual audience.

The debates will air live on CNN Philippines Free TV Channel 9, cnnphilippines.com website, and CNN Philippines' official Facebook account.