Comelec will no longer hold debates, sets panel interview with presidential, VP bets

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 25) — The Commission on Elections will no longer hold live presidential and vice presidential town hall debates this weekend, April 30 and May 1, due to scheduling conflicts with candidates.

Comelec Commissioner George Garcia announced Monday that the poll body, as advised by event partner Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas, will instead adopt a "single candidate/team - panel interview format."

The event will now be called "Comelec-KBP Pilipinas Forum 2022" airing May 2 to 6. Final guidelines will be released on Tuesday.

“All will be entitled to a one-hour panel interview. Kung saan nila gusto o kung gusto nila virtual o face-to-face kami mag-adjust (The candidates can choose where they want it to be held or if they want it virtual or face-to-face. We will adjust)," Garcia said in a message to the media.

Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez told CNN Philippines that the panel will be composed of anchors from different networks. The signing of the memorandum of agreement between the poll body and KBP is scheduled on Thursday, he added.

The final debates, initially slated for April 23 and 24, were supposed to be rescheduled to April 30 and May 1 amid the ₱14-million debt of Comelec’s private partner Impact Hub Manila/Vote Pilipinas to debate venue Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila.

Garcia said the poll body sent invitations to the presidential and vice presidential candidates Monday morning.

As of Wednesday, only presidential bets Ernesto Abella and Norberto Gonzales have so far confirmed their participation in the activity. The others' confirmations are expected on Thursday, Jimenez noted.