: Bongbong ordered me to ask Comelec, bets to first tackle debate format – Abalos

28 February 2022

By Neil Arwin Mercado |

MANILA, Philippines — Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has ordered his campaign manager Benjamin Abalos Jr. to ask the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and other presidential candidates to first tackle the debate format prior to the event.

Abalos himself revealed this information on Monday, as he explained the letter dated February 11 telling the Comelec that it would be “more proper and prudent if all presidential candidates will be given an opportunity to discuss before the Commission among themselves the format, which will include the issues to be discussed, the time allotment for each, the right to respond and rebut his/her arguments, who will be the moderator, among others.”

Abalos said that it was he who sent the letter to Comelec regarding the conduct of the presidential debate initiated by the poll body.

“So ganito, ako ‘yung inutusan ni BBM (Bongbong Marcos), ni ating Ferdinand Marcos Jr. as the national campaign manager to write a letter sa lahat ng presidentiable at sa Comelec, na pagusapan ano ang format ng debate,” Abalos said when asked about Marcos Jr.’s attendance to the Comelec-sponsored debate for presidential candidates in the May 9 elections.

(As the national campaign manager, I was ordered by Bongbong Marcos to write a letter to all the presidential candidates and to the Comelec for us to tackle first the format of the debate.)

“Para kasing ginagawa sa ibang bansa, partikular sa Amerika, na lahat ng tatakbo roon sa debate ay talagang nagusap-usap,” he added.

(It’s like what they are doing in other countries, particularly in the US, where all candidates joining the debate really talk first.)

Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez earlier announced that all presidential candidates, including Marcos Jr., will attend the presidential debate scheduled on March 19.

But Atty. Vic Rodriguez, spokesperson of Marcos Jr., clarified that the attendance of his candidate will only be confirmed “if his hectic campaign schedules permit.”

In the February 11 letter to the Comelec, Marcos Jr.’s camp says: “Foremost, presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has expressed his readiness to join the same.”

Notably, the letter only stated Marcos Jr.’s “readiness to join” the debate – rather than a formal confirmation of attendance.

According to Abalos, the Comelec has yet to respond to his letter.

“Unfortunately hanggang ngayon wala pang sagot sa akin ang Comelec, wala pa and that’s on record. Nabasa ko na lang sa pahayagan na sinabi nila, sine-set nila,” he said.

(Unfortunately, until now, Comelec has yet to respond and that’s on record. I just read in the papers that they are already setting up the debate.)

“Kaya ‘yung sinasabi ni spokesperson Vic Rodriguez, totoo ‘yun. Dahil nga sumulat kami at wala pa rin namang sagot, sabi niya, tingnan namin sa schedule namin kasi nga naka-schedule na rịn kami halos nakita ninyo, noong isang araw nasa Iloilo, pagkatapos nasa Ilocos, tapos kahapon nasa Pangasinan,” he added.

(What spokesperson Vic Rodriguez was saying is true. Since we wrote and there is still no response, he said we have to check our schedule first because as you can see, the other day we were in Iloilo, then Ilocos, then yesterday in Pangasinan.)