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Roque asks debate organizers to check objectivity

Harry Roque - Presidential Spokesperson

UniTeam senatorial candidate Harry Roque has called on election-related debate organizers and broadcast networks to check objectivity and ensure good faith among guest candidates, including UniTeam standard-bearer Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos and running mate Sara Duterte.

Roque said that holding debates do not give organizers the right to compel candidates or even survey frontrunners like Marcos and Duterte to participate if they refuse.

Roque, who took part in Wednesday’s senatorial debate sponsored by the SMNI network, said that candidates’ final decision to participate is part of the democratic exercise.

The former presidential spokesman and party-list representative has actively participated in political debates which is within his “competitive edge.”

“I welcome every opportunity to debate. I was a University of the Philippines law professor for 15 years and litigation lawyer handling international and domestic cases for 32 years,” Roque said.

The human rights and health advocate added that “joining debates can do me good because I can only rise rather than fail in this area.”

Roque, however, said there was no absolute objectivity in debates organized during an election.

“Let’s face it that there are some partisan sponsors who use televised debates as a tool to bring down a leading presidentiable or senatoriable,” Roque said. “This is to prop up the survey numbers of the opposing candidate that these organizers support.”

He continued: “So, let’s leave it to former Senator Marcos and Davao City Mayor Duterte to decide if these debates are advantageous to their respective candidacies.”

Roque said televised debates do not have the monopoly of communicating candidates’ political platforms to the electorate.

If elected in the Senate in May, Roque vowed to push for legislation on greater health care for all, job creation for pandemic-affected workers, ‘zero-hunger’ in six years, right to potable water, and a ‘three-day court hearing’ rule.

Roque authored the landmark legislation on Universal Health Care, free irrigation for farmers, free lunch for elementary pupils, free wi-fi in public places, and free tuition in-state colleges and universities.

“Those running for elective office can now extensively discuss their stand on matters of national interest anywhere, anytime in any platform,” he said.

The former presidential spokesman cited live broadcasts in social media and one-on-one interviews with radio and TV channels as effective alternatives to network-sponsored debates.


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