September 26, 2015
The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) is tapping the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) to help in organizing the debates for presidential and vice-presidential candidates in the 2016 elections. KBP Board Chairman Herman Z. Basbaño said the KBP will be helping the COMELEC in formulating the rules and policies for conducting the debates and in coordinating the activities of the broadcast networks in organizing the debates. Republic Act 9006, or the Fair Elections Act, authorizes the COMELEC to require national television and radio networks to sponsor at least three national debates among presidential candidates and at least one national debate among vice-presidential candidates during the campaign. The KBP is the biggest national organization of radio and television networks and stations in the country.
COMELEC Chairman Andres D. Bautista met with the KBP and the representatives of the major broadcast networks last September 21 to discuss initial plans for the 2016 debates. He proposed that the three debates for presidential candidates will be staged in different parts of the country, the first one in Mindanao, the second in the Visayas and the third in Luzon, and the vice-presidential debate in Metro Manila. Each of the three major networks—ABS-CBN, ABC TV5, and GMA—was asked to take the lead in organizing a presidential debate, while CNN (RPN) was asked to take the lead in organizing the vice-presidential debate. All radio and television stations are expected to broadcast the debates. The lead networks were also expected to provide access to the debate to print and online media.
The COMELEC chairman asked the KBP to draft the rules and policies for organizing the debates and help thresh out issues and problems that may arise among the networks in organizing the debates. Basbaño assured the COMELEC chairman of the full cooperation of KBP members in making the debates a success.