Press Release
October 13, 2015

Drilon urges public, media support for Comelec 2016 debates

Saying that elections must not be based on sheer popularity, Senate President Franklin M. Drilon urged the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to push through its plan to conduct presidential debates next year "in order for the voters to know the candidates well and their stand on the most pressing issues being faced by the country."

"The planned debates to be hosted by the Comelec for contenders in the 2016 national elections must push through and must have the active participation of candidates, the media and the public," Drilon said.

"I fully endorse that and I will be totally disappointed if that doesn't push through," he added.

He said that the presidential and vice-presidential debates will give the voters throughout the country an important mechanism to know where the candidates stand on critical issues, such as on the fight against corruption, poverty alleviation, ending political dynasties, labor and job generation, and tax reform.

Drilon, a re-electionist senatorial candidate in 2016, also raised the possibility of Comelec-hosted debates for senatorial and even local elections throughout the country.

"There should be always that type of presentation of a candidate's platforms and ideas to the public, so everyone will not just talking about the popularity and appeal of candidates," he stressed.

He said that the media will play an important part in bringing the debates to every Filipino home, and asked national and local media outlets to give priority to the airing of the debates.

"If possible, let's give these debates a primetime slot, so every Filipino could watch and see for themselves who these candidates really are," he said.

Drilon said that it would be better for next year's presidential and vice-presidential bets to actively engage in the planned debates, to prove to the public that they are really reform-oriented leaders.

"Election is not about popularity. It takes more than sheer popularity to effect positive changes in the lives of Filipinos especially the poor," he added.

"This only happens once every six years, when we choose our leaders. This is only time that we can choose them, and we should pick them based on what their stand on issues and platforms are, not based on their popularity," Drilon said.

According to the Comelec, the series of debates will be held from Feb 21, 2016 to March 20, 2016, throughout different locations each in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. The last Comelec-sponsored presidential debate was held during the 1992 elections.

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