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SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau

Creation of Presidential Debate Commission sought
Writer: Dionisio P. Tubianosa, Media Relations Service-PRIB
25 December 2014 01:02:43 PM

A lawmaker has stressed the need to provide the people the proper venues and opportunities for them to be abreast with and informed of the candidates' qualifications and advocacies.

"This is a very important right of the people recognized under Sections 90 and 93 of Batas Pambansa 881 or the Omnibus Election Code of the Philippines," Rep. Estrellita "Ging" B. Suansing (1st District, Nueva Ecija) pointed out.

Hon. Suansing is author of HB 5269 which proposes to establish the "Presidential Debate Commission" to, among its salient provisions, "obligate all Presidential and vice Presidential candidates to participate in the debates and, thus, help the voting population discern who to vote for."

HB 5260, Suansing explained, complements existing elections-related laws by seeking to establish the Presidential Debate commission which will: (1) schedule the debates for the Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates; (2) submit reports evaluating the debates scheduled by the Commission itself and by other agencies, organizations or associations, or the mass media; and (3) formulate the guidelines for the adoption of the best format for the debates.

The author also cited Article III of the 1987 Constitution recognizing the right of the people to information on matters of public concern.

"This right reinforces the equally important right to suffrage. As well-informed voting population would be able to carefully and intelligently choose their future leaders," the lady-lawmaker stressed.

She further pointed out that the people deserve to personally discern the candidates' capacity to clearly present their platforms, program of government, and provide answers to questions on national, regional or global issues that will affect the country.

Under Section (B) of HB 5269, the Commission shall be composed of six (6) members appointed as follows: (a) One (1) member shall be appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives; (b) One (1) members shall be appointed by the House Majority Leader, who shall not be a member of the Majority leader's political party; (c) One (1) member shall be appointed by the President of the Senate; (d) One (1) member shall be appointed by the Majority Leader of the Senate; and (e) two members shall be appointed by the President from among a list of nominees by the two (2) dominant political parties.

"Provided, That the members to be appointed in the preceding items (a), (b), (c), and (d) shall not be members of the same political parties from which the appointees of the President will be selected. Provided, further, that not more than three 93) appointees shall come from any political party. Provided, finally, that the appointees, shall as much as possible come from the different sectors provided in paragraph (b)(2) of this Section."

Candidates for President and vice President are automatically disqualified from becoming a member of the Commission as well as their relatives within the fourth degree of consanguinity and affinity, the bill states.

The measure also provides that member of the Commission may be from the public and privates sectors, and may include national or local government officers or employees, members of the academe, non-profit organizations, or other interested individuals.

Except as provided under the proposed law, "decisions made by the commission shall be made by consent of no less than four (4) of the commissioners. The commission shall meet at a time and a site agreed upon by no less than four (4) of the members."

The proposed measure, among others, also provides for the staffing, duties and other vital matters to relevant to its duties and responsibilities, including funding for its operations.