Comelec debate bans ’codigo’ on stage

Candidates will not be allowed to bring any notes on the podium during the two-hour first of a series of presidential debate dubbed Pilipinas Debates 2022 organized by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in Pasay City today.

DEBATE-READY. Newly-appointed Commission on Election Chairman Saidamen Balt Pangarungan is joined by Commissioner George Garcia and Comelec spokesman James Jimenez in inspecting the stage at Sofitel in Pasay City where the presidential and vice presidential debates of the poll body will be held today (Saturday) and tomorrow (Sunday), respectively. Danny Pata

“We will not allow any notes on stage. Although we will be providing notepads and pens on the podium to enable the candidates to (write) down notes if they want,” Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said in an interview Friday, during the walkthrough at the debate venue at the Sofitel Hotel Tent.

Jimenez said among the topics to be discussed are the COVID-19 pandemic and the economy.

“These are the two biggest things on the minds of everyone right now,” he added.

For Saturday’s presidential debate, there are 10 podiums on stage representing the number of candidates running for the highest elective post in the country.

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“We have a pool of 20 questions but we don’t expect all of them to be asked. Again, this is not a questionnaire type of debate wherein all questions are going to be asked. The debate will be organic and we will flow according to responses of the candidates,” Jimenez added.

The first candidate to speak will be chosen through draw lots while the second and the next speakers will be chosen alphabetically.

Asked on what they are going to do in case surveys front-runner former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. shows up at the event, Jimenez said: “Will see what happens if he shows up tomorrow (Saturday) but as of right now, we have no information that he will.”

Marcos’ spokesperson, lawyer Vic Rodriguez, had said the former lawmaker would skip the debates—held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.—but they have yet to submit a formal notice of non-participation to the poll body.

“Right now, we are conducting candidate briefings also in other places of this complex since they need to see the venue where the debate will be held and our preparing for the candidates,” Jimenez said.

Those who are expected to attend the first Pilipinas Debates 2022 are Ernie Abella, Leody de Guzman, Isko Moreno Domagoso, Ping Lacson, Norberto Gonzales, Faisal Mangondato, Jose Montemayor Jr., Manny Pacquiao and Leni Robredo.

On Thursday, the Comelec set up a livestream of the ongoing printing of ballots for the 2022 elections at the National Printing Office in Quezon City.

Jimenez said it was a 24/7 uninterrupted feed webcasting live from the NPO and was accessible via the official Comelec website and Facebook Page.

“The livestream will go on for as long as ballots and other election paraphernalia are being printed. Consider this move our way of communicating to the public that their concerns do not fall on deaf ears and that the Comelec will take all steps necessary to promote transparency and secure public trust for the elections,” he said.

The live feed will show the printing area, packing and shipping area, and quarantine room. The areas for printing and packing and shipping displays various viewing angles, providing an inside peak at the activities being done as well as persons coming in and out of the areas.

The quarantine room is dedicated to rechecking rejected ballots due to various reasons, such as irregular margins, smudges, and other ballot deficiencies.

“In addition to the livestreaming, the Comelec has established observation areas in both the NPO and at the Comelec warehouse in Sta. Rosa, Laguna. Subject to minimum public health standards issued by appropriate authorities, the areas are open to interested political parties, citizens’ groups and other stakeholders,” Jimenez added.

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