Without discussing specifics, the Commission on Elections (Comelec)'s former contractor Impact Hub Manila said it "encountered some misunderstandings" with the poll body's partner venue Sofitel Philippine Plaza, which led to the postponement of the presidential and vice-presidential debates this weekend.
Comelec's back-to-back town hall debates, originally scheduled on April 23 and 24, were rescheduled to April 30 and May 1 amid reports that Impact Hub Manila failed to settle its P14-million balance to Sofitel.
In a statement released on April 23, Impact Hub Manila said it entered into a private deal with Sofitel "to provide logistical and technical support for the staging of the debates," while clarifying that Comelec is not a party to the contract.
— Impact Hub Manila 🇵🇭 (@impacthubmnl) April 23, 2022
"Unfortunately, the initiative between the two private companies encountered some misunderstandings," Impact Hub Manila said.
"While there have been incomplete reports as to the cause of the miscommunication, Impact Hub Manila will refrain from publicly divulging these matters and will endeavor to discuss them with Sofitel and other stakeholders privately."
The company, which leads Vote Pilipinas, Comelec's official voter information campaign partner, said "what truly matters" at this point is not the debates venue but the fact that they'd still be held.
"The public should have more opportunities to know the platform, background, and credentials of those running for public office," it added.
The Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas will be Comelec's new partner for the rescheduled debates.
The town hall debates, which will follow a double moderator format, will have remote and in-person audience, as well as a post-debate roundtable, Comelec said.
The VP debates will revolve around social sector issues, including the indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities, workforce, farmers, overseas Filipino workers, women, and the LGBTQ+ community.
The presidential debates, meanwhile, will tackle electoral reforms, education, and economic infrastructure.