Press Release
November 15, 2008


Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon today expressed strong support to the plan by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to hold televised debates among presidential and vice presidential candidates for the May 2010 elections.

Gordon said the planned televised debates in major media networks would definitely help in informing and educating the voters about the qualifications of the candidates as well as his stands on issues of national importance.

"That is what we need, an avenue for presidential and vice presidential candidates to present their vision and platform of government," he said, referring to the proposed presidential and vice presidential debates in prime television.

"In this way, the Filipino electorate will get to know the candidates and they will be able to evaluate their competence, integrity and reliability to lead the country and would not have to rely on surveys in choosing the country's leaders," he said.

Comelec Commissioner Rene Sarmiento has earlier expressed intent to initiate the filing of a resolution in the poll body to sponsor televised debates among presidential and vice presidential candidates in the May 2010 elections.

Halalang Marangal led by its convenor Pastor Boy Saycon has also called for prime time debate in major networks for presidential candidates as practical and sensible.

Gordon has earlier filed Senate Bill 2079, mandating major television and radio networks to sponsor at least three national debates among presidential candidates and at least one national debate among vice presidential candidates.

Under SB 2079, he proposed that each debate shall not be less than sixty minutes, exclusive of airtime for commercials and advertisements.

"The debates would be very useful as they would help the Filipino electorate get to know each presidential candidate's qualifications, his stands on issues, and where he wants to bring the nation," Gordon pointed out.

"The debates would also enjoin a candidate to prepare and offer for scrutiny his concrete action plans in consonance with his or her platform of government in order to weigh more favorably against the opponents," he added.

Though the Fair Elections Act requires the Comelec to procure free airtime from at least three national television and radio networks for equal allocation to all candidates for national office, Gordon said there is no mechanism that requires nationally-elected candidates to make known their position on matters of national significance through intelligent debate.

Gordon said that in the recent presidential elections in the United States, the electorate gained an insight on the two candidates through the debates that were strategically held throughout the campaign period.

"At the recent elections in the US, the debates indeed helped the electorate decide on which candidate to vote for because the debates gave them an informed evaluation about the candidates' character and competence," he said.

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