MANILA – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Thursday said four presidential and three vice presidential candidates have so far confirmed their attendance to the panel interview sessions to be aired by the poll body and the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) next week.

Comelec Commissioner George Garcia urged all presidential and vice presidential bets to attend the event.

“We are really asking them to participate, other than the fact that this is their last hurrah. The KBP has 1,000 (members), try to imagine this opportunity,” he said in a press briefing.

“They are paying to run their 30-second ads. This is free for a full one hour. We are hoping they grab this opportunity. It's one hour for free,” Garcia added.

Originally, the Comelec had given the candidates until 5 p.m. Thursday to confirm their attendance. It was extended by another hour.

The deadline was moved to Friday noon after the candidates requested an extension.

“They (candidates) requested an extension until tomorrow lunch to fix their schedule,” Garcia said. “Until noon tomorrow. Last and final extension.”

Meanwhile, the poll body released the guidelines for the Pilipinas Forum 2022, a series of one-hour panel interview sessions between a single candidate or team of candidates (president and vice president), by a panel of broadcast anchors drawn from KBP-member networks.

The forum aims to give the electorate the opportunity to hear, directly from the candidates themselves, their plans for the presidency and the nation.

Each session will begin with the candidate’s opening statement (8 minutes), which shall include a response to the question “Paano mo iaaahon ang Pilipinas sa mga hamon at krisis na hinaharap nito ngayon (How will you uplift the Philippines to the challenges and crisis it is facing now)?”

The main body of the session will be divided into three segments, with each segment being devoted to an interactive discussion between the candidate and the panel. The discussion will be focused on two broad topics. The first segment (10 minutes) will tackle Presyo ng Bilihin at Kahirapan (Inflation & Poverty) and Trabaho at Sahod, Kabuhayan at Negosyo (Jobs creation and business).

The second segment (10 minutes) will revolve around Education and Healthcare and Covid Response. The third segment (12 minutes) will touch on a variety of Hot Button Issues: including but not limited to, red-tagging, press freedom, attacks on civil society, attacks on mainstream media, fake news, e-sugal (e-gambling), electoral reforms, gender issues, political dynasties, dealing with disasters and calamities, use of nuclear energy, resurrecting the BNPP, foreign policy, judicial reforms, appointees, etc.

The session concludes with the candidate’s closing statement (2 minutes) to answer the question: “Ano ang magiging tatak ng administrasyon mo? At paano mo masisiguro na bubuti ang buhay ng bawat Pilipino sa anim na taon mong panunungkulan (What will be the platform of your administration? And, how can you be sure the lives of every Filipino will be improve in the six years of your term?)”

The session may be conducted in any one of three ways, depending on the candidates’ preference and availability: • Live and in-person;• Live and via teleconference call; or • Taped as Live (No Editing)

The sessions will be aired from 10 a.m. to noon, from May 2 to 6, 2022. The order of airing shall be determined by the drawing of lots.

The major broadcasting networks have signified their intention to air the forum, including Manila Broadcasting Company, Bombo Radyo Philippines, Radio Mindanao Network, ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp. (Teleradyo and ANC), TV5 Network Inc. (One PH and OneNews), CNN Philippines, Radyo Pilipino, Primax Broadcasting, Vanguard Broadcasting, and many others.

The Comelec expects most of the radio and TV stations with news programming to participate. (PNA)