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Debates litmus test of poll bets — Gordon

The Commission on Elections has been prodded   to require all national candidates to participate in a series of debates in all regions of the country in the coming elections  to give voters enough information on the qualities and platform of the candidates.

Former Senator Richard Gordon said the Comelec can make use of the UP school system and other state colleges and universities to host these events.            Comelec can also ask law schools and other academic sectors, the judiciary, and socio-civic organizations to help set up and administer the debates so that the candidates can constructively engage with each other and the people.

The media would cover these events, while airtime for nationwide coverage can be paid either by the government, by the candidates and their political parties, or by civic-minded individuals and corporations who wish to heighten the political maturity of Filipinos. He said the series of debates would reveal  the candidates’ background, capabilities, views, and action plan on national and local issues.

“I believe this debate series would be the true litmus test of the candidates’ capabilities so that voters can choose on on a more informed basis, rather than being unduly influenced by the quality and quantity of the candidates’ political propaganda.”

“We need this urgently so that Filipino voters make an informed and unbiased vote, based on the candidates’ qualifications, track record, platform of government, views on national and local issues, and performance under fire. The Comelec should spearhead this because genuine and widespread information on a candidate’s capabilities and beliefs form the backbone of its mission for Filipinos to vote wisely.”

Gordon said his proposal would be doable in the coming elections, and can be scaleable depending on the political will of the electoral stakeholders and the resources that can be made available.

Gordon further pushed for Comelec to require candidates to post on a regular basis during the campaign, the volume and value of the political advertisements they employ during a certain period.

“I have nothing against political advertisements, but I believe our voters should be made aware of the huge amounts of money certain candidates spend in this area, and this knowledge would give them another insight on how they vote in the elections.”

Gordon said he made his proposal based on the urging of many concerned Filipinos and its warm reception in social media.

“The people are tired of regular campaigns where political propaganda is virtually the sole basis of widespread information available for voters. They want to know the true substance of the candidates, and a series of compulsory debates will reveal this.”

Gordon said the Comelec’s plan to hold just three debates for the presidential candidates where their attendance would be optional, is not nearly enough for voters to be informed on the true qualities and stance of candidates on local and national issues.

He said the first few debates could focus on the candidates’ qualifications, experience and track record. Other debates could then tackle the candidates’ views and platform on investment and employment, poverty alleviation, national security, agriculture and food security, peace and order, transportation and communication, health, education, the economy, foreign policy, infrastructure, and regional development. The candidates can also address local issues in the various regions where the debates would be held, like the lack of power in Mindanao and the poverty prevailing in the provinces.

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