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Comelec cancels pres. and VP debates after contractor’s payment issue, partners with KBP for new format

By Hannah Mallorca Published Apr 25, 2022 12:08 pm

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has cancelled the final presidential and vice-presidential debates, opting instead to host a panel interview of the candidates with the Kapisanan ng mga Broadcaster ng Pilipinas (KBP).

The final two debates were originally rescheduled to April 30 and May 1 following reports that the Comelec’s former contractor Impact Hub Manila failed to settle its P14-million balance to the Sofitel Philippine Plaza.

“In consideration of the inevitable scheduling conflicts as the candidates approach the homestretch of the campaign period, and as advised by the KBP, the Comelec will now be adopting a single candidate or team panel interview format,” Comelec said in a statement.

The KBP candidates’ forum will be held from May 2 to 6, with each presidential and vice-presidential aspirant given a one-hour interview. 

Garcia said candidates are free to do their interviews virtually, face-to-face, or in tandem with their running mates.

“Guidelines [or] rules will be [released] tomorrow… all will be entitled to a one-hour panel interview. Kung saan nila gusto o kung gusto nila virtual o face to face kami mag adjust. Puede pareho virtual o isa virtual at isa face to face o pareho face to face,” Comelec commissioner George Garcia said.

Impact Hub Manila said in a statement on Saturday, April 23 that it entered into a “private deal” with Sofitel to provide “logistical and technical support” for presidential and vice-presidential debates. However, the initiative went through “some misunderstandings.” 

Impact Hub Manila also clarified that Comelec is not a party to the contract between the two private companies.