By Leslie Ann Aquino
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is still studying the possibility of organizing a debate among senatorial candidates in the May 2019 midterm polls.
“We are looking at it. A lot of organizations are expressing interest in conducting debates but the question really is how are you going to call a debate with at least 50 candidates? That’s the logistical question there. So, it is being studied carefully,” Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez said in an interview.
But, he said the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) has already expressed, although informally, their interest in helping the poll body.
“If you remember in 2016 they were instrumental in getting Pilipinas Debates off the ground. We are looking at these old partnerships and we hope we could come up with a solution,” said Jimenez.
And with at least 50 senatorial aspirants, the poll official said there is the problem on how to group the candidates.
“We can say it is by mere batches. But there might be those that will question why is he/she in batch 2? So it will still boil down into why is there a division,” said Jimenez.
Using the survey results, he said as basis to divide the candidates may also be unacceptable.
“The Comelec is sort of leery about any move to segregate candidates in this way preferring, of course, to treat all candidates, regardless of standing in the surveys, as equal,” said Jimenez.
During the May 2016 polls, the Comelec together with their media partners organized three presidential debates dubbed as #PiliPinasDebates2016.
Due to the successful conduct of the debates, then Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista said they want to make the debates a regular thing during elections.
“We want to make these debates a part of the fabric of Philippine elections that can successfully penetrate the political consciousness of many Filipinos for it is high time that our politics to veer from popularity and personalities and move towards policy pronouncements, platforms, and performance,” he said at that time.