Organize the debates, Larrazabal tells former colleagues

Published February 21, 2019, 6:36 PM

by Ellalyn De Vera & Richa Noriega

By Leslie Ann  Aquino

A former poll commissioner believes the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) should organize a series of debates for senatorial candidates in the May 13 midterm polls.

Gregorio Larrazabal said this is in order to create an opportunity for the voters to listen to the candidates.

“It would be a very good idea if @COMELEC organizes a series of senatorial debates and requires the top senatorial candidates (in the latest survey) to attend and participate,” he said in his Twitter account @GoyYLarrazabal.

“What happens is that it creates the opportunity for the voters to listen to the candidates, to something more substantial, beyond the soundbites,” added Larrazabal.

He said it will also regularize national debates, where the voters already know and expect to see the candidates to discuss substantive issues.

“If done right, voters will now demand it for future elections,” said Larrazabal.

Although Comelec spokesman James Jimenez agrees with Larrazabal that a debate would be good for candidates, he said such an endeavor would be challenging since there are 62 senatorial candidates.

“Fitting all of them into one debate would be unwieldy (to say the least) and would run longer than a Lav Diaz opus,” he said in his Twitter account @jabjimenez.

“If you serialized the debates, on the other hand, the question arises: how many episodes do you do? 5 debates with 2 having 13 participants instead of 12? 10 debates? 3 debates with one of those debates having 20 instead of 21 participants? You get the picture,” added Jimenez.

During the May 2016 polls, the Comelec organized “PiliPinas Debates” for both presidential and vice presidential candidates.