By Catherine S. Valente | The Manila Times
PRESIDENTIAL candidate and former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. on Tuesday confirmed his attendance to the presidential debate to be hosted by the media network owned by embattled televangelist Apollo Quiboloy on Tuesday night.
"My word is my bond," said Marcos in a statement. "I made a commitment to join the SMNI (Sonshine Media Network International) event and, in fact, I've signed the agreement for my attendance."
Marcos, the consistent frontrunner in presidential surveys, said he's had a hectic schedule since the start of the 90-day national campaign that started on February 8, but a break between events permitted him to be in Metro Manila to honor his commitment to the SMNI event.
"Kapag nag-oo ako na sasali ay tutuparin ko kahit sino ang nag-imbita at kahit gaano man ka-hostile and inaasahan kong mga tanong (If I say yes, I will honor it no matter who invited and no matter how hostile the questions will be asked to me)," Marcos said.
"But I commit and say yes only if my schedules permit," he added.
Marcos, running mate of vice presidential aspirant and Davao City mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, has been criticized for his absence in The Jessica Soho's Presidential Interviews and the forum organized by the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas.
He has also declined to join the presidential debates organized by CNN Philippines scheduled on February 27.
Marcos spokesman, Victor Rodriguez, had said the presidential candidate would not join any event that would only engage candidates in a debate to avoid fighting.
Other presidential candidates, Vice President Maria Leonor "Leni" Robredo, Senators Panfilo Lacson and Emmanuel Pacquiao, and Manila Mayor Francisco "Isko Moreno" Domagoso, will skip the SMNI debates, while labor leader Leody de Guzman has also confirmed his attendance.
Marcos said he respects the decision of other candidates not to join the SMNI event.
"Maybe each of them has a good reason to skip the event. I respect their decisions as I felt they respected mine when I failed to attend similar forums in the past," he said.
The SMNI debate, which will also feature vice-presidential candidates, will be broadcast live at 6 p.m. from the Grand Ballroom of the Okada Manila, in partnership with The Manila Times.