MANILA -- In all forms of competitions, there will always be a promising candidate with no hope of winning due to misconceptions or unpopularity. In the global arena, debates have been proven to be the best avenue to set candidates on an even footing, especially during elections.

Commission on Elections’ Director for Education and Information James Jimenez recently sat on an international debate symposium for the coming mid-term elections in the Philippines.

He said that incumbents may be missing a golden opportunity by dodging debates.

“Some studies have shown that incumbents who take the opportunity to articulate their policies are actually more likely to pull in voters at the polls,” Jimenez wrote in a tweet posted late Thursday.

This was true in the 2016 presidential elections where most of the incumbents who were running for higher office lost to local politicians aiming for national posts.

In his Twitter account, Jimenez further stressed his point saying, “Public viewings of debates are significantly more effective at changing voter choices and behavior than private or personal viewing.”

Too many senatoriables

Meanwhile, Comelec Chairman Sheriff Abas has mentioned in an earlier interview that it is difficult to make possible an official debate for the May 13 elections since there are 62 candidates vying for a seat in the Senate.

"Compared to the presidential race where only six competed, it is much harder with the mid-term elections since there are 62 of them," the Comelec chief said, adding that the senatorial debates held by private networks and other parties are not official.

Last month, the poll body rejected the request of the opposition Otso Diretso bloc to facilitate a debate between them and the administration's Hugpong ng Pagbabago party.

Jimenez earlier noted that they cannot hold such an event solely for two parties.

“Granting Otso Diretso’s request would be tantamount to giving preferential treatment to some senatorial candidates or slates,” he added.

Meanwhile, Abas also added that challenging debate is also a strategy to win votes.

"Ang ibang kandidato, ang strategy nila ay through debate, depende sa diskarte ng bawat grupo (Other candidates make hosting debates their strategy. It depends on their plan)," he said. (PNA)