Two presidential aspirants in the 2022 national polls issued a reminder to voters to be wary of candidates who are skipping public debates ahead of the elections.
Sen. Manny Pacquaio, a presidential bet running under the Progressive Movement for the Devolution of Initiatives (PROMDI) party, on Thursday said that such aspirants do not have “regard for any accountability.”
“Nakakatakot yang mga ganyang kandidato… ‘Pag na-elect na sila, kahit magnakaw pa sila nang magnakaw, wala silang pananagutan dahil ibinoto sila ng tao kahit alam nilang magnanakaw sila,” he was quoted as saying.
“Paano sila sisingilin ng taumbayan, eh sila mismo ang naglagay sa kanila sa pwesto?” the senator added.
Pacquiao reportedly said that those seeking the highest position of the land should stop making excuses to avoid debates, especially the ones organized by the poll body.
He added that the electorate should be given the right to know the platforms of those running for public office and get a glimpse of their character as future leaders and implementors of policies.
The senator previously said that he will attend all presidential debates as it is meant to give voters an informed choice about their bets, the quality of their leadership and their style of governance.
Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso, more commonly known as Moreno, likewise said that if he is the voter, he would not choose the one who skips such events during campaign season.
“Hindi kita boboto. Bakit ko iha-hire ang isang bagay na hindi naman nag-a-apply?” he said on Thursday.
“Puwede mo bang basahin mo na lang ‘yung papel, hindi mo ba siya tatanungin? ‘Totoo ba ‘tong sinabi mo na ito ang skills mo, paano mo napatunayan?’” Moreno added.
“Kapagka may mga kaso ka pa, tapos napatunayan na may sala ka, kailangan patunayan mo, nagbagong buhay ka na ba? Eh kaso, baka iyon pa rin ang ginawa mong sunod,” he further said.
Last February, the Commission on Elections said that candidates’ non-attendance to debates should serve as a “red flag” for voters.
Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez said that voters can interact with the candidates to know their plans and programs for the country if the latter participate in such events.
“Ultimately, what the Comelec cares about is whether or not the public will have the opportunity to interrogate the candidates, their positions, their beliefs and so on,” he said.
“Whether or not they come to the debate doesn’t really matter to the Comelec, it matters to the people,” Jimenez added.
“It’s important that candidates take the opportunity to speak to the public, to present their plans for government in public… especially now that there is a lack of in-person opportunities,” he said in another report.
The national elections will be held on May 9, 2022.
Apart from Pacquiao and Moreno, those running for president are former Duterte spokesperson Ernesto Abella, entrepreneur Faisal Mangondato, labor leader Leody De Guzman, former defense chief Norberto Gonzales, Sen. Ping Lacson, former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., physician Jose Montemayor and Vice President Leni Robredo.