By Deighton Acuin

PHOTO: CNN Philippines

The attendance of presidential aspirant Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. in the upcoming debates organized by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) is yet to be finalized this week, his camp said, citing “tight schedules.”

“Maybe this week we will finalize because of our schedule, our schedule is very tight and it’s getting tighter by the day as we go into the middle of March,” Marcos’ spokesperson Vic Rodriguez said during the UniTeam tandem sortie in Bulacan.

“We have a full schedule on that day that has been in place for more than two months na. Ang scheduling namin mahaba, talagang mahaba ang schedule namin,” Rodriguez added.

Marcos had said that he is not yet keen on attending debates and that he will check the format first. It was first said by his camp in the ANC interview that the presidential aspirant will not engage with his fellow presidential hopefuls if it is only meant for bickering and throwing past issues towards each other.

The late dictator’s son has been a trending topic for his no-shows in multiple debates. His first absence was on January 21 when GMA News organized a one-on-one interview with veteran journalist Jessica Soho then succeeded by the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) presidential forum on February 4 and debates of CNN Philippines on February 27.

He, however, marked his presence in Boy Abunda’s interviews, DZRH presidential forum, cooking show and interview with Korina Sanchez-Roxas, and SMNI presidential debates. It is obvious that SMNI is a network of Kingdom of Jesus Christ Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, who endorsed Marcos and his running mate Sara Duterte-Carpio for presidency and vice presidency, respectively.

It can be remembered that Marcos, in 2016, attended the CNN Vice Presidential debates but ended up throwing past issues of his family by then-vice presidential contenders Alan Peter Cayetano and Leni Robredo.

As a consequence, Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez said that the candidates who will be absent in the upcoming forums will be barred from posting e-rally contents in the poll body’s social media accounts until the 90-day campaign period ends. He also said that expected topics will be disclosed to the aspirants, but the in-depth and individual questions are considered as “off-limits.” Moreover, aspirants who fail to commit their attendance in media forums are a “red flag” for the voters.

Edited by: Phylline Calubayan