Comelec organizes its 2nd presidential debate

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Comelec spokesman James Jimenez. Picture file

Presidential favorite Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. will not participate in the second round of the Electoral Commission (Comelec) sponsored presidential debate for Halalan 2022, to be held at the Sofitel Hotel tonight.

Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said on Saturday there was no word yet from Marcos’ camp, but said the former senator was welcome if he changed his mind.

Jimenez added that the other nine presidential candidates will attend the PiliPinas 2022 debates, which will again be broadcast live from 7 p.m. on the Facebook Comelec account and other social media platforms.

They are former presidential spokesman Ernie Abella (independent), labor leader Leodegario “Ka Leody” de Guzman (Partido Lakas ng Masa), Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso (Aksyon Demokratiko), of former Defense and National Security Advisor Norberto Gonzales (Partido Demokratiko Sosyalista ng Pilipinas), Senator Panfilo Lacson (independent), Faisal Mangondato (Katipunan ng Kamalayang Kayumanggi), Jose Montemayor Jr. (Democratic Party of the Philippines) , Senator Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao (Abag Promdi) and Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo (Independent).

Jimenez reiterated that the second round of debate will be very different from the first following a change in format to make the discussion more interesting.

Unlike the first round where contestants answered only one question per segment, Jimenez said that this time the nine contestants would be divided into groups of three, which would change with each segment. Each group will be randomly pre-determined by lottery two hours before the debate or at 5:00 p.m.

Under the new format, there will be a general question that all candidates must answer at the start of the debate.

But in each subsequent segment, the contestants will be divided into groups of three where each group will be given a question to debate.

“In total, there will be three questions for each following segment. There will be a total of four segments with this format,” added Jimenez.

Each candidate will have 120 seconds or two minutes per answer with 30 seconds for rebuttal. A 60-second closing statement will be given to all applicants.

Jimenez said the debate, which will be moderated by TV presenter Ces Drilon, would center on “government accountability” and “domestic politics”.

Comelec has prohibited candidates who do not participate in its organized debates from broadcasting their electronic rallies on the platform of the voting body.

He added that a tougher penalty for non-participating candidates would be difficult to implement in the absence of the law because the debate is voluntary in nature.

Printing of ballot papers done

Comelec also announced that it had printed all 67.4 million ballots for use in the upcoming May 9 automated polls, three weeks before the April 25 deadline.

The polling body posted on Twitter that the last of the ballots had come out of the National Printing Office (NPO) around 10.28am on Saturday. The printing of the ballots began on January 23.

After printing, Comelec said the ballots would go through a verification process before being sealed and shipped to their intended destinations across the country.

At midnight on Friday, Comelec also began sending supplies for the Automated Election System (AES) from its main technical center in Sta. Rose, Lagoon.

“We are on track. The shipment of various election items, including AES supplies, is proceeding as planned. In line with the Commission’s commitment to full transparency at all stages of the electoral process, we have invited electoral actors and members of the media to observe and cover said activity,” Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said.

Vote Counting Machines (VCM), Consolidated Canvassing Systems (CCS), laptops, peripherals and transmission devices were shipped.

Comelec Chairman Saiamen Pangarungan and officials witnessed the activity at the polling body’s warehouse in Sta. Rose, Lagoon.

Jimenez said the shipment would continue for the first two weeks of April until these supplies were delivered to the various regional Comelec centers, where they would be stored awaiting distribution to polling centers before the day of the ballot.

After the AES supplies, the official ballots and indelible ink will then be distributed.

Jimenez said distribution of election materials, peripherals, forms and supplies began in February, beginning with VCM power banks, non-voting forms and other materials.

Comelec has awarded F2 Logistics Philippines the 1.61 billion peso contract for the delivery of election-related materials and equipment for the upcoming national and local elections.

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