(File photo)

MANILA – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) intends to implement a new format for its second presidential debate to make it more exciting, according to Commissioner George Garcia.

“That's why in the next presidential debate, there will be some adjustments that will surprise the candidates. If they already know or have an idea of what will happen, there is no more thrill,” he told the media after the first “PiliPinas Debates 2022” held at the Sofitel Hotel Tent in Pasay City on Saturday night.

“We can definitely promise you that there will be changes on the format. There is a surprise difference that they themselves will appreciate,” he added.

Garcia said the initial staging of the presidential debate was “very successful.”

“It's not 100 perfect, but it's a good start, it's successful for us. We think everyone, probably even if those who watched on television, followed it on social media, heard over radio, we can say that it's very successful because it was appreciated by our candidates and their teams at the same time, and also by everyone who witnessed this debate,” he said after the more than two-hour event.

“The questions that were asked did not favor one candidate. It was fair to all the candidates, they all appreciate it and were able to answer the questions clearly,” he added.

He admitted that they cannot control the participants if they want to talk about a candidate who decided to skip the event.

“Of course, we have no control over that, we cannot stop those who are present from going to that topic because it's their discretion. It can always come out in their answer,” he said. “So I think this will be a reminder for those who are looking to skip the next debates not to be absent or else they are going to be the topic of those who will be present in the debate.”

He, however, said it is also best to talk about those who attended the event since they were able to share their thoughts on issues.

“We should appreciate their presence for taking their time to be with us,” he said.

The presidential candidates who attended the first presidential candidate were Jose Montemayor Jr., Faisal Mangondato, Panfilo Lacson, Leody de Guzman, Norberto Gonzales, Ernesto Abella, Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso, Vice President Leni Robredo and Senator Emmanuel Pacquiao.

Former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., his spokesperson Vic Rodriguez earlier said, opted not to join the debate and instead would honor “commitment to our supporters to be with them on the field on this day.”

On Saturday night, Marcos attended the grand rally of UniTeam in Marikina City.

The next Comelec-sanctioned presidential debate will be held on March 26. (PNA)