Sen. Miriam skips second presidential debate to join clinical trial

MANILA, Philippines - Presidential candidate Miriam Defensor Santiago said that she will not be attending the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and TV5's second presidential debate scheduled this Sunday, March 20, after being accepted as fit to undergo a clinical trial for a new, unnamed anti-cancer pill.

Sen. Miriam skips second presidential debate
Photo Credit: Twitter/senmiriam
Santiago said she joined the international clinical trial to gain free access to the medication, which would otherwise cost reportedly half a million pesos every three weeks. The trial requires Santiago to report for outpatient radiation treatment at the hospital daily for a short period.

The senator said she will try and participate in the third and last presidential debate on April 24 (to be handled by ABS-CBN) if the ongoing treatments do not inhibit her.

"I am very sorry to miss out on the debates, but it would be a disservice to the country if I forego the opportunity to get rid of my cancer completely and strengthen myself further to serve the Filipino people," Santiago said.

Prior to her announcement, the senator, who was diagnosed with lung cancer, stage four, in June 2014, has delivered speeches in several universities around the country, banking on her popularity among the youth to buoy her presidential bid.

In all her campus speeches, Santiago urged millennial voters to vote for candidates with academic, professional, and moral excellence. She also asks the youth to campaign for her recalling the massive impact of youth volunteers in her 1992 run.

Santiago has been dubbed the "president of campuses," having topped the following university surveys conducted since the filing of certificates of candidacy in October:

De La Salle University Manila, 75 percent;

Polytechnic University of the Philippines, 64 percent;

Universilty of the Philippines (U.P.) Los Baños, 86 percent;

University of Santo Tomas, 66 percent;

Ateneo De Manila University, 36.6 percent;

U.P. Manila, 59.5 percent;

University of Northern Philippines, 35.85 percent;

Malayan Colleges Laguna, 54.7 percent;

Colegio de San Juan de Letran, 58.5 percent;

U.P. Diliman, 41.6 percent;

Holy Angel University, 40 percent;

University of Asia and the Pacific, 43.2 percent;

Adamson University, 64 percent;

Ateneo de Naga University, 37.4 percent;

U.P. Baguio, 78.2 percent;

Philippine Normal University, 76 percent;

Arellano University, 36 percent; and

De La Salle University - Lipa, 32 percent.

Santiago has also previously said that her campaign will bank heavily on her strong social media base. With some 3.4 million followers on Facebook and some 2.4 million on Twitter, Santiago has the biggest social media clout among the presidential candidates.

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