GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 15 Oct) – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) in Region 12 is planning to revive its public debates for local candidates in the May 2016 elections.
Lawyer Michael Abas, of Comelec Region 12, said Thursday they are currently working on the details and arrangements for the debates, which will be held during the scheduled campaign period.
Based on the Comelec’s official calendar of activities, the election period will officially begin on Jan. 10, 2016.
The campaign period for national candidates will run from Feb. 9 to May 7 and for local candidates from March 25 to May 7.
Abas said they will coordinate with local media entities, particularly radio and television stations, for the airing of the debates.
In the previous elections, he said Comelec-12 was able to arrange free air time slots with local radio and television stations for its information and education campaigns during the campaign period.
Dubbed “Comelec Hour,” Abas said the free broadcast slots were also intended for the debates but it did not prosper due to lack of interest among local candidates.
He said they held public debates before but only a few candidates showed up, prompting them to eventually scrap it.
“The debates will be a good venue for our candidates to various values issues and present their platforms so I hope we will get all-out participation this time,” he said.
The Comelec central office earlier directed its regional offices to arrange the conduct of public debates for candidates in key cities and municipalities for next year’s polls.
Such move was an offshoot of its decision to hold debates for presidential and vice presidential candidates.
Abas said that as set by Comelec central office, one of the planned presidential and vice presidential debates will be held in Mindanao.
He said the venue of the debate has not yet been finalized but it could be held Davao City, Cagayan de Oro City or this city.
“But with the presidential debates coming up, we’re hoping that our local candidates will also be encouraged to join its local version,” he added.