Comelec will not refuse candidates on the day of the debate

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MANILA – Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. and Sara Duterte-Carpio may yet change their minds and decide to attend the next presidential and vice-presidential debates of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on March 19-20.

Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said Monday that candidates would not be turned away if they showed up on the day of the debate at the Sofitel in Manila.

“If they come on the day of the debate, they won’t be turned away. It’s up to them to decide. The sooner they confirm, the sooner we can let them know about things like set up, where they should stay, ano kailangan gawin before the hand, etc. The same briefing that will be given to all candidates,” Jimenez said.

He said a candidate he declined to name requested a tour of the venue.

“Bibigyan natin offers the opportunity to walk on the site. It is important because they need to know where they will appear, and even if possible in this area, but also nila isama. We are very strict on the number of people they can bring. Jimenez added.

“So it’s important for campaigns to know what’s possible within the rules. Ngayon, kung ayaw mag-taking advantage of opportunities na yun is good. If they come on the day of the debate, so much the better. Tara, tayo debate,” Jimenez said.

Prior to that, Jimenez said they weren’t ready to give up on contestants who didn’t give written confirmation of attendance.

“We’re not ready to finish them. We think some people will take a bit longer to make up their minds. We’re prepared to wait. The debate will take place this weekend. So it will be very interesting to see if they will be there.

Jimenez said written confirmation is not a requirement to participate in the debate. However, he stressed that showing up on the day of the debate would mean an agreement to abide by the rules of the debate.

Marcos, Jr. and Duterte declined to participate in future proceedings.

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