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AUG 16, 2015

NR # 3928B

Solon pushes for approval of timely

Presidential Debate Commission proposal
Rep. Estrellita B. Suansing (1st District, Nueva Ecija) today welcomed the proposal of the
Commission on Elections (Comelec) to hold presidential debates nationwide, as she moved for
the passage of her House Bill 5269 which seeks to create a Presidential Debate Commission that
will obligate all presidential and vice presidential candidates to participate in the debates, and
thus, will help the voting population discern who to vote for.
The nationwide presidential debates proposed by the Comelec are indeed welcome and
necessary. On our end, we believe the enactment into law of HB 5269 or the proposed
Presidential Debate Reform Act will put in place a specific body to prepare and conduct the
debates every national election. It shall also obligate all presidential and vice presidential
candidates to participate in the debates, so they should be ready to expound and defend their
agendas and platforms during the debates, said Suansing.
Suansing filed the bill on Dec. 4, 2014 and is now pending at the Committee on
Government Reorganization chaired by Rep. Romeo M. Acop (2 nd District, Antipolo City). It has
a counter-part measure, Senate Bill 1797, filed by Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago.
Suansing, a vice chairperson of the Committee on Women and Gender Equality, said the
measure will benefit presidential and vice presidential candidates as it will afford them a great
opportunity to detail to voters their platforms and positions on issues that affect the country, and
also clarify matters facing the candidates themselves.
I hope it will merit the approval of the 16th Congress and the President so we can already
have a Presidential Debate Commission in place prior to the May elections. Its a very timely
proposal, said Suansing.
In her bill, Suansing said the right of the people to information on matters of public
concern, as provided for in Article III of the 1987 Constitution, reinforces the equally important
right to suffrage. A well-informed voting population would be able to carefully and intelligently
choose their future leaders, said Suansing.
The lawmaker further said this important right of the people is also recognized under
Sections 90 and 93 of Batas Pambansa 881 otherwise known as the Omnibus Election Code of
the Philippines.
Last week, the Comelec said it plans to hold debates among presidential candidates in the
May 2016 elections in various areas in the country and these could be held after the filing of
certificates of candidacy in October.
Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista said a technical working group had been formed to
study this and come up with mechanisms and guidelines. According to him, this is necessary
to provide a mechanism for exacting accountability on campaign promises made by candidates

during the campaign period.

The last debate organized by the Comelec was in 1992. Based on The Fair Elections Act or
Republic Act No. 9006, the Comelec can require national television and radio networks to
sponsor at least three national debates among presidential candidates and at least one among vice
presidential candidates.
Suansings HB 5269 seeks to complement elections-related laws by seeking to establish a
Presidential Debate Commission which shall be composed of six members appointed as follows:
(a) One member shall be appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives; (b) One
member shall be appointed by the House Majority Leader, who shall not be a member of the
Majority leader's political party; (c) One member shall be appointed by the President of the
Senate; (d) One member shall be appointed by the Majority Leader of the Senate; and two
members shall be appointed by the President from among a list of nominees by the two dominant
political parties.
The members to be appointed in the preceding items (a), (b), (c), and (d) shall not be
members of the same political parties from which the appointees of the President will be selected.
Furthermore, not more than three appointees shall come from any political party and that the
appointees, shall as much as possible come from the different sectors.
Candidates for President and vice President shall automatically be disqualified from
becoming members of the Commission as well as their relatives within the fourth degree of
consanguinity and affinity.
The Commission shall establish a schedule of debate based on the following: one
preliminary debate; not more than two vice presidential debates; and two to four presidential
debates. It shall decide on the format of the debates based on the most effective way to provide
the most useful information about the candidates to the voting public.
Moreover, the Commission shall closely monitor all other scheduled debates for
presidential and vice presidential candidates initiated by the mass media or other government
agencies or private organizations, and submit a report evaluating the effectiveness of said
It shall also coordinate with the different government agencies charged with the
enforcement and administration of all laws relative to the conduct of elections to ensure free,
orderly and honest elections, and with other organizations or associations concerned with the
The Commission, after considering all the submitted evaluation reports, shall formulate
guidelines for the adoption of a debate format, which will best achieve the policies adopted by
the Act. (30) rbb