The Commission on Elections on Friday said six presidential aspirants and four vice presidential candidates in the May 9 polls are joining the “PiliPinas Forum 2022” interview series to be aired next week.
According to Comelec Commissioner George Garcia, those who confirmed attendance at the event are presidentiables Ernesto Abella, Leody de Guzman, Norberto Gonzales, Faisal Mangondato, Jose Montemayor, and Senator Manny Pacquiao.
The vice-presidential bets who are also set to participate in the forum are Rizalito David, Manny Lopez, Senate President Tito Sotto, and Carlos Serapio.
“It’s the final list,” he said
The Comelec, together with the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas (KBP), will be holding the panel interview sessions set to air from May 2 to 6, 2022.
The participants will be given a choice if they want to conduct the interview either live and in-person; live and via teleconference call, or taped live with no editing.
Meanwhile, the rivalry between the two leading contenders in the presidential race has evolved into a battle of attrition as Vice President Leni Robredo on Friday refused to participate in any debate organized by third parties, but dared former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to engage in a verbal tussle with her.
“If you [Marcos] accept my challenge, anytime, anywhere, I will come,” Robredo said.
“I have decided not to accept the invitation of Comelec and the KBP so I could be with my volunteers who have invested money, and spent time and energy with me,” she added.
But Marcos’ spokesman, Vic Rodriguez, said his boss has rejected Robredo’s challenge.
“This will never happen due to various reasons. And Ms. Robredo knows those reasons,” Rodriguez said.
Marcos, son and namesake of the late strongman, earlier rejected the Comelec panel interview despite previously saying he preferred one-on-one interviews over debates and forums.
Since the start of the presidential race, he has only attended one debate – the one hosted by Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI), the media network owned by embattled televangelist Apollo Quiboloy, who has endorsed his candidacy.
Meanwhile, a group of former ambassadors have rallied behind Robredo and her running mate
Sen. Francis Pangilinan, citing the tandem’s clear foreign policy that protects the country’s national interests, especially in the West Philippine Sea.
Among them were erstwhile Foreign Affairs Secretaries Albert del Rosario and Delia Albert, former Labor Secretary and Ambassador Jose Brillantes, former Ambassador to China Sonia Brady, former
Ambassadors Victoria Bataclan, Estrella Berenguel, Eduardo Maglaya, Claro Cristobal, Laura del Rosario, Cecilia Rebong, and Millie Thomeczek.
“We must veer away from a foreign policy of fear and appeasement, and instead, pursue a foreign policy that strongly but peacefully asserts our sovereign rights under international law,” the group said in a statement.