‘Lost his chance’: Comelec debate moderator says on presidential bet’s absence

March 19, 2022 - 10:33 PM
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This composite photo shows the empty podium dedicated for presidential aspirant Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and the podium for presidential candidates. (Screenshot via Comelec; Philstar.com/Franco Luna)

A debate moderator emphasized the opportunity lost by a presidential candidate who did not attend the Commission on Elections presidential debates on Saturday, March 19.

It took place at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza in Pasay City

“It was his decision not to participate and because of that, he has lost his chance to present his program of government and platform,” debate moderator, journalist Luchi Cruz-Valdez said during the turn of Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

She expressed this during the introduction of the nine presidential candidates who were present during the forum.

An empty podium dedicated for Marcos was also shown on screen.

The presidential aspirants who attended the debates are as follows:

  • Ernesto Abella
  • Leody De Guzman
  • Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso
  • Norberto Gonzales
  • Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson
  • Faisal Mangondato
  • Jose Montemayor
  • Sen. Manny Pacquiao
  • Vice President Leni Robredo

Valdez, the assigned moderator, also repeated the absence of Marcos when his turn comes up during the debates proper.

His empty podium was also displayed on the livestream and telecast.

This move was also observed during the presidential debate organized by CNN Philippines.

Following the mention of the presidential candidates’ absence, the keyword “absent” trended on Twitter Philippines as viewers talked about it on the micro-blogging platform.

As of writing, the keyword garnered over 26,100 tweets.

Some viewers lauded Valdez and Comelec for pointing out Marcos’ absence in an important debate.

Others also tweeted photos of the empty podium while others shared funny reaction photos.

Some users held more critical views for the candidate’s decision to skip the event.

“A true leader shows up,” one Twitter user said.

“Imagine, how will you even vote for a person where you don’t even have any idea on what his/her plan is? It’s like someone wanting to audition for a dance team without seeing them dance. Make it make sense,” another Twitter user commented.

This presidential debate dubbed The Pilipinas Debates 2022: The Turning Point,” is the first one Comelec organized for national candidates of the 2022 polls.

The Comelec is also set to hold the vice presidential debate on Sunday.

Pre-recorded interview

Marcos’ spokesperson lawyer Vic Rodriguez confirmed the “non-participation” of Marcos in this debate last Monday.

“Presidential frontrunner Bongbong Marcos’ words are his bond, thus we shall honor our commitment to our supporters to be with them on the field on this day,” he said in a statement.

“We shall continue with our preferred mode of direct communication with the people and engage them in a more personal face-to-face interaction that discusses real issues that affect them today, tomorrow and in the days to come as this election is all about our collective future,” he also said.

An hour before the Comelec debates, a pre-recorded interview of Marcos with Erwin Tulfo and Communications Secretary Martin Andanar was aired on PTV and Tulfo’s Facebook page on Saturday.

This interview is the second episode of “The Chatroom” program.