Task Force Eleksyon, the largest nationwide coalition of electoral reform advocates, on Monday said the February 21 presidential debate, while a good first step, still fell far short of what the electorate deserves.
“Missed was the opportunity to highlight the candidates’ policy differences and to bring to light their stands on contentious and yet highly relevant issues. Instead, what viewers got was a highly commercialized focus group discussion with occasional potshots between the candidates, rather than a much needed exchange on their ideas and core beliefs, track records, and programs of government,” the group said.
It called on the Comelec and other election stakeholders to work together to ensure that the next debate will reflect the depth and dynamism of the discussion necessary in addressing the country’s most pressing problems.
The group recommended, among others, to reduce the number of commercial breaks, to focus the debate on contentious issues, and to formulate questions with civil society.
It noted that the first debate held on February 21 in Cagayan de Oro City, 48 minutes or 35.5% of the entire 135-minute ebate were consumed by commercials.
On the otherhand, the second debate in Cebu have 40 minutes of commercials over three hours.
It said that limiting the number of commercial breaks would give candidates more time to engage one another and expound on their positions.