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    'I've already decided': Sara Duterte won't join debates

    MANILA, Philippines – Vice Presidential aspirant Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio announced on Saturday that she will not join any debates ahead of the May 9, 2022 elections.

    Mayor Sara Duterte decided to skip any debates
    Mayor Sara Duterte decided to skip any debates ahead of the May elections.

    Duterte is firm that she will not attend the debates, even the one hosted by the Commission on Elections (Comelec). She said that she will continue her campaign even without debates. She said that it's all up to the public to decide if they will choose her.

    "I've already decided that we will do this campaign without joining debates. Iiwan ko na po yan sa lahat ng ating mga kababayan ang pagdedesisyon sa pagpili nila sa VP na ganito po yung aking direksyon sa kampanya," Duterte said.

    The vice presidential candidate said she will let the public know once she changed her mind.

    “Well, kung magbago man o hindi, we will let you know, but as of this very moment that decision is to conduct this campaign without joining debates,” she said.

    The Comelec will organize three presidential debates and two vice presidential debates called “PiliPinas Debates 2022: The Turning Point”. The VP debates are set on March 20 and April 23.

    SEE ALSO: Comelec PiliPinas Debates 2022 schedule, where to watch, livestream

    Earlier, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez explained that candidates who will skip the Comelec debates will not be allowed to broadcast their electronic rallies on the poll body's platform.

    "We do have the e-rally that we allow them to use the platform and one of the agreements is that if they skip the debates, then they will not be able to air their e-rallies on our e-rally platform,” Jimenez said.

    He explained that the ban will continue until the end of campaign period on May 7.

    Jimenez was referring to Comelec's e-rally campaign on Facebook. It posts campaign videos and materials on candidates to help them reach a wider audience amid the pandemic restrictions.

    Last February, Duterte-Carpio explained that she has her own personal reason on why she doesn't want to attend debates.

    She said, "Yes, I have a reason, but I do not want to say it to the public what the reason is. We are discussing it with my team and drafting a statement. As of now, no comment."

    “It is something personal and I do not want to say it publicly, and it is a continuing discussion within the team whether I will participate in the debate or not,” she added.

    Duterte-Carpio's decision has stirred some reactions from her fellow candidates. The most outspoken one is her rival Prof. Walden Bello who called her a coward.

    "So I repeat my question, Mayor Sara, why are you a coward? Nganong talawan man ka, Inday. You’re bringing shame to Davaoenos who have to add another award, that of best hideout for no-shows in national debates," he said.

    — Sally, The Summit Express

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