(PNA photo by Avito Dalan)

MANILA – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) will push for the enactment of a law mandating the attendance of poll bets in debates in future elections.

“We will convince Congress to include in the law a requirement that all local or national candidates must attend the debates called by the Comelec. If they are not available, it could be a ground for disqualification and election offense,” Commissioner George Erwin Garcia said in a Laging Handa briefing on Monday.

He added that presidential and vice presidential debates are important events where aspirants can relay to the electorate their plans, platforms, and stand on issues.

“This is not just a simple activity, where the people will be able to know what’s in the mind of a candidate. It is very important because you can see the readiness of the candidate to face the countrymen he is courting,” he said.

He added that it is through debates that candidates will be able to express thoughts and experiences on how to solve problems hounding the country.

Meanwhile, Garcia was impressed by the performance of the nine presidential candidates during the second presidential debate hosted by Comelec on Sunday.

“It is important that we see that their positions are almost the same on the same issue. It means that more or less they all know the solution to the problems that have been asked of them,” he said.

Those who attended the debates on April 3 were former presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella, labor leader Leody de Guzman, Manila Mayor Francisco Domagoso, former national security adviser Norberto Gonzales, Senator Panfilo Lacson, businessman Faisal Mangondato, Dr. Jose Montemayor Jr., businessman Faisal Mangondato, Senator Emmanuel Pacquiao and Vice President Leni Robredo.

Former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. again skipped the debate. He also skipped the first presidential debate held on March 19. Both events were held at the Sofitel Harbor Garden Tent in Pasay City.

The third and last presidential debate is scheduled on April 23 while the next vice presidential debate is set on April 24.

“Because it is a town hall debate, the public may participate as they will be allowed to ask questions. The discussions and exchange of opinions among candidates are going to be more engaging,” he said. (PNA)