MANILA, Philippines – GMA Network clarified on Thursday, February 25, that candidates knew what topics would be discussed during the first presidential debate held in Cagayan de Oro City last Sunday.
The broadcasting network issued the statement after Vice President Jejomar Binay aired his complaints about the debate during a campaign sortie in Batangas on Wednesday, February 24.
The United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) standard-bearer questioned why he was asked about his real estate properties during the first round of the debate, which was supposed to be about candidates' track records.
Binay also pointed out that the TV commercials took too much time – eating up a total of 48 minutes of the two-hour program, according to MindaNews.
The Vice President said he would ask the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to shoulder the expenses for the debates instead because broadcasting networks "are more interested" in how many advertisers they will get.
The first debate was organized by GMA-7 and the Philippine Daily Inquirer, with the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) as debate coordinator.
"We respect his opinion about the presidential debate on February 21, 2016, but GMA wishes to clarify that it was made clear to the Binay team and the other presidential candidates' teams what subjects would be discussed during the debate," the network said in a statement.
It added, however, that "none of the candidates was informed of the specific questions asked during the debate."
Binay is not the only candidate who has complained about the first debate.
Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte also observed that candidates were not given enough time to speak. He suggested that the future debates be reformatted because it was "useless" to rebut other candidates in the original format.
Even vice presidential candidates have suggestions on how to improve the succeeding election debates.
Two more presidential debates are scheduled in Cebu and Pangasinan, and one vice presidential debate in Manila. – Rappler.com
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