Walden Bello confronts Comelec to impose ‘stronger penalties’ vs bets skipping debates

March 20, 2022 - 11:13 PM
This composite photo shows candidate Walden Bello posing for a photo prior to the start of the first Commission on Elections vice presidential debate on Sunday, March 20, 2022 as well as the stage of the Pilipinas Debates 2022. (The STAR/Miguel de Guzman; Philstar.com/Deejae Dumlao)

Walden Bello, a vice-presidential candidate, confronted officials of the Commission on Elections Sunday night over what he called “weak” penalties on to no-show candidates.

Bello, a former party-list lawmaker, used up his time to call out the Comelec at its first vice-presidential debate dubbed “The Pilipinas Debates 2022: The Turning Point,” on Sunday, March 20.

Debate moderator Ruth Cabal asked the candidates the following question: “Anong isyu o problema ng lipunan ang nangangailangan ng bagong polisiya o batas na irerekomenda mo sa pangulo?”

In his response, Bello initially expressed his hesitation because he felt the debate is “becoming a big joke.”

He then pointed out the absence of Davao City Sara Duterte-Carpio, another vice-presidential hopeful for the May elections.

“Sara Duterte is not with us. We’re slashing one another for her benefit. I mean the Commission on Elections should do something about this,” Bello said.

The labor leader also called on the Comelec chairperson to penalize Duterte and her running mate Ferdinand Marcos Jr., for skipping the debate.

Marcos did not attend the Comelec-organized presidential debate, held at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza in Pasay City, on Saturday.

“Commissioner, chair, maaari ba can you penalize these two people—Marcos and Sara Duterte for not showing themselves up to the Filipino people with their programs and so that masuri ho ng Filipino people ang kanilang record and saka yung programs nila?” Bello said.

Debate moderator Cabal cited that Comelec already has sanction against non-attendees.

Comelec earlier stated that candidates who will not attend the debates they organized will not be able to use their e-rally platforms until the end of the campaign season.

Bello criticized the current penalty set by the Comelec.

“My God, ang hina po non. We need stronger penalties for these people,” he added.

Meanwhile, when debate moderator Cabal asked if Bello would respond to the question, he threatened to walk out from the venue.

Bello then used the rest of his debate time to continue calling on Comelec to force Marcos and Duterte to show up in these debates.

Following this heated moment, Bello’s name trended on Twitter Philippines.

As of writing, it has over 2,600 tweets under its belt.

Several Filipinos agreed with Bello on the importance of showing up in debates.

“I super agree with Walden Bello. Mabuti pa nga siguro mag-walk out na lang silang lahat dyan then maybe the Comelec could reconsider the rightful penalties for those candidates insulting the Pilipino voters by not attending these debates,” an online user tweeted.

Debate moderator, journalist Luchi Cruz-Valdez was also talked about online after she emphasized Marcos’ lost opportunity when he skipped the presidential forum yesterday.

“It was his decision not to participate and because of that, he has lost his chance to present his program of government and platform,” Valdez said.

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