Davao City mayor and PDP-Laban standard-bearer Rodrigo Duterte has threatened to boycott the first presidential debates sponsored by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) following allegations of discrimination in media coverage.
The debates will be held in Cagayan de Oro City on Sunday, “I will not go there. Pagka ganun [If it’s like that] you limit the [press coverage)]?” a press statement from the Duterte camp quoted the mayor as saying.
On Sunday, the Cagayan de Oro Press Club released a statement saying that the organizers of the debate limited the number of slots for local media.
The February 21 debate will be mounted by GMA-7 and the Philippine Daily Inquirer, along with the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP).
Duterte, who is advocating the passage of the Freedom of Information Bill, said local media should be given equal treatment and be spared from discrimination.
“[I am running for] president because I want people from the provinces to be given equal treatment,” he said.
Duterte said he will discuss the possible boycott with PDP-Laban president Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel 3rd.
According to a statement sent by Duterte’s camp, the Cagayan de Oro Press Club said it will boycott the Comelec debate after learning that only five slots will be reserved for Cagayan de Oro-based media in the venue that can accommodate only 500 people.
Only five newspaper reporters will be allowed in the event’s media center– a separate venue where a video monitor will broadcast feeds of the debate, the group added.