All 10 presidential aspirants in the May 9 national elections, including former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. have confirmed their attendance for the Commission on Elections (Comelec) debate on March 19, its spokesperson James Jimenez said.
Apart from Marcos, the candidates attending the debate are Vice President Leni Robredo, Senators Ping Lacson, Manny Pacquiao, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso, former presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella, labor leader Leody de Guzman, former Defense chief Norberto Gonzales, Muslim bet Faisal Mangondato, and cardiologist-lawyer Jose Montemayor Jr.
Jimenez said no questions will be given in advance to candidates, and no “kodigo” (cheat sheet) will also be allowed on the podium.
The poll body spokesman said the campaign team of Marcos Jr., who earlier shunned some independently-hosted forums, has confirmed his attendance.
Marcos last attended the debate of SMNI Network owned by televangelist Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, who endorsed his and his running-mate Sara Duterte’s bids for the 2022 polls.
Jimenez added the Comelec will be sponsoring three debates.
The poll body earlier said there is no law requiring candidates to participate in public debates, and that the Comelec cannot oblige the candidates to show up.
Meanwhile, the Comelec said it will also organize a debate for vice presidential candidates set on March 20. However, only eight out of nine VP bets will be attending — Walden Bello, Rizalito David, Sara Duterte-Carpio, Manny Lopez, Willie Ong, Kiko Pangilinan, Carlos Serapio, and Vicente Sotto III.
“All VP candidates confirmed except one who, unfortunately, I think will be undergoing surgery… (Rep.) Lito Atienza,” he said.