Absent Minded: Here Are Debates And Interviews That Presidentiables Skipped And Why - Trending

Experts say that voters have more to lose than candidates who fail to attend election debates.

All of the presidential candidates who topped major surveys have missed at least one debate or interview related to the 2022 Philippine elections.

READ ALSO: Called Into Question: Journalists Review The Presidential Interviews Of Jessica Soho And Boy Abunda

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has said that absence of candidates in debates is a “red flag” for voters.

“What Comelec cares about is whether or not the public will have an opportunity to interrogate the candidate, so to speak. To interrogate their positions, to interrogate their beliefs, and so on,” Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said during a February virtual briefing.

Although the impact of debates on the final election results is debated by experts, voters have more to gain than candidates from these events.

The International Growth Centre concluded that election debates increase political accountability: “Our research has found that giving voters access to information through debates between rival candidates can significantly improve their knowledge and increase democratic participation.”

Here’s why leading presidential candidates did not attend certain debates and interviews.

Dodging the Question

Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. did not accept any of the invitations to attend the Jessica Soho Presidential Interviews, the KBP Presidential Candidates Forum, and the CNN Philippines Presidential Debate.

Marcos told One News that he declined the interview with Soho due to her alleged bias, which he equated with being “anti-Marcos.”

He also declined to participate in the KBP forum due to a “conflict in schedule,” which turned out to be his interview with Korina Sanchez, who later clarified that they had no choice since it was the politician’s team who chose the time and date.

The presidential frontrunner again cited a conflict of schedule in attending the CNN debate.

In all three cases, he was the only leading presidentiable who declined to participate. Pulse Asia even mentioned Marcos’ non-attendance to the Soho interview in its January 2022 Nationwide Survey on the May 2022 Elections.

Confirmation: Biased

Marcos, however, was the only leading presidential candidate who attended the SMNI Presidential Debate 2022.

SMNI or Sonshine Media Network International is the official broadcasting arm of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ church led by Pastor Apollo Quiboloy—a fugitive wanted for sex trafficking in the United States.

Senator Ping Lacson skipped the debates since Quiboloy has publicly endorsed Marcos and his running mate, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte.

“With all due respect and giving regard to common sense, SP Tito Sotto and I are skipping the SMNI debates. The network’s chairman, Pastor Quiboloy has already openly endorsed his preferred presidential and vice-presidential candidates,” Lacson posted.

His fellow Senator Manny Pacquiao said he cannot “in good conscience” participate in any activity organized by a man wanted for detestable crimes and who unconscionably used the name of the Lord in vain for religious scams.

Moreover, he has a pending cyber libel case against Quiboloy, which prompted him to decline the invitation so as not to affect the legal proceedings.

“As much as I would like to participate in every debate and public forum related to my bid for the presidency, I am compelled to decline the invitation of SMNI, which is owned by Apollo Quiboloy, who, according to the US government, has molested and abused children,” Pacquiao said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Vice President Leni Robredo and Manila Mayor Isko Moreno cited prior commitments in Panay and Samar, respectively.

Banner Photo by freestocks photos from Pixabay

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