Poll Body Says It Has No Power to Compel Poe to Join Debate

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The Commission on Elections (Comelec) confirmed yesterday that they do not have the power to compel presidential aspirant Fernando Poe Jr. (FPJ) to participate in the April 13 Presidential Debate 2004.

In a press conference, Comelec Chairman Benjamin Abalos said the poll body cannot compel or order FPJ to participate in the nationwide televised presidential debate, adding it is only voluntary and there is no law that punishes a candidate for refusing to join.

"We cannot force him because there is no law compeling a candidates to participate in such activities. Whether a candidate attends or not, he could not be punished because there is no law that punishes that act," he said.

Abalos said the debate would push through even if not all the presidential candidates have agreed to join the activity set by the Comelec and the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV).

"Complete or not complete, we would push through with the debate for the people to know what their candidate really is made," he said.

Recently, presidential aspirants President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Raul Roco, Panfilo Lacson, Eddie Villanueva and Eddie Gil have confirmed their participation in the televised debate through their representatives during the meeting held at the Comelec, Monday to discuss the mechanics of the activity. …