The failure of candidates in the 2022 elections to participate in debates and other forums may be problematic for voters, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said on Thursday.

In a virtual presser, Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said the candidates’ absences could be “red flags” for the voters.

“I think it’s very important in recognition of how important it is with the people, that we acknowledge that they fail to show up. It’s not going to be glossed over, it’s not going to be ignored, there’s gonna have a podium right there, with their name on it and no face above it,” Jimenez said.

Jimenez said while the Comelec did not care about candidates not showing up in debates, the poll body wanted the public to “interrogate” their future leaders.

Jimenez made the statement in response to a question about Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s recent refusal to attend a forum for presidential bets hosted by the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas.

Marcos in January also declined to participate in GMA News’ presidential interviews hosted by Jessica Soho, claiming that the award-winning host was biased against his family.

There will be a total of six Comelec-mounted presidential and vice presidential debates.

The earliest will be held this month. John Ezekiel J. Hirro