MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) announced on Monday, April 25, that its final round of presidential and vice-presidential debates will be replaced by pre-taped interviews, which will be aired on May 2 to May 6.
This shift of format comes after Comelec’s chosen event organizer, Impact Hub Manila, failed to settle their contract obligations to Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila, the event’s official venue.
Sofitel’s representatives said Impact Hub’s issued checks were dishonored due to insufficient funds, and the organizers have yet to pay 68.4% (P14 million) of the total contract price.
Comelec has now partnered with the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP), who will also provide the panelists for the 1-hour long panel interviews, which may be done virtually or face-to-face.
Vic Rodriguez, Presidential aspirant Bongbong Marcos’ spokesperson, said that the panel interview is the format they have been advocating for – distanced from political noise and personal bickering.
As of date, Marcos has only attended one presidential debate, which was hosted by Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI).
Manila Mayor Isko Moreno said he is happy to join if his schedule permits, saying (in Filipino): “I’m applying for a job, and job applicants don’t get to choose how they will be interviewed by their future employer, which in this case are the people.”
Senator Panfilo Lacson is also open to the new format, but hopes for the pre-taped sessions to not be edited so as not to mess with the interview’s context and key points, and to fairly convey each candidate’s message and platforms.