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In new Comelec debate format, presidential bets in groups of three will have longer time to answer

By NICK GARCIA Published Mar 31, 2022 5:01 pm

The Commission on Elections on March 31 has announced changes in the format of its second presidential debate on April 3, which will see candidates face off in groups of three with longer time to answer questions.

In the first round of the presidential and vice presidential debates last March 19 and 20, candidates were given 90 seconds to answer the moderator's questions. They also have 30 seconds for rebuttals and another 30 seconds for rejoinders.

Draw lots were also conducted to determine who would answer the first question per segment, and the candidates answered in alphabetical order thereafter.

The program lasted for about two and a half hours.

For the April 3 debate, moderated by broadcaster Ces Oreña-Drilon, Comelec said there will be one general question for everybody at the start of the debate.

For the succeeding segments, candidates will be divided in groups of three, where each group will be given one question to debate on.

This fomat will have four segments with three questions each.

Candidates will be given two minutes or 120 seconds to answer. They still have 30 seconds for rebuttals.

The groups of three, which will be pre-determined via draw before the debates proper, will change with each segment.

Like the previous debates, candidates have no opening statements, but will be given a minute for their closing remarks.

"We saw what happened during the first debate," Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said in a press briefing. "We figured that this would be a good opportunity to even sharpen the debate some more."

"Expect more clash of wits and the passions will be high among themselves," Commissioner George Garcia told reporters ahead of March 31's announcement.

So far, nine out of 10 candidates have confirmed their attendance on April 3:

  • ex-palace spokesman Ernesto Abella
  • labor leader Leody de Guzman
  • Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso
  • ex-defense secretary Norberto Gonzales
  • Sen. Ping Lacson
  • businessman Faisal Mangondato
  • cardiologist and lawyer Jose Montemayor
  • Sen. Manny Pacquiao
  • Vice President Leni Robredo

Ousted dictator's son and namesake Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., who skipped the March 19 event for his campaign rally, has yet to confirm his attendance on the second presidential debate.

Still, Jimenez said they're considering adding 10 names in the draw lots just in case.