UST Rector Fr. Richard Ang, CNN Philippines, President Benjamin Ramos and Microsoft Philippines public sector director Joanna Rodriguez pose for a photo following the signing of the memoranda of agreement and understanding for the presidential and vice presidential debates. (Photo by Camille Abiel H. Torres/ The Varsitarian)

THE UNIVERSITY will host the CNN Philippines debates, where nine presidential candidates and seven vice-presidential candidates are expected to square off.

UST Rector Fr. Richard Ang, O.P. signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with CNN Philippines President Benjamin Ramos on Thursday.

The Quadricentennial Pavilion, a sports complex, will be the venue for the debates.

UST and CNN Philippines also inked a memorandum of understanding with Microsoft Philippines, which will be in charge of the event’s virtual audience.

The debates will be held on Feb. 26 (vice presidential) and 27 (presidential) from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Ang said signing the agreement with CNN Philippines showed UST’s commitment to spreading the truth and promoting human dignity, freedom, and justice for Filipinos, as envisioned by Fr. Miguel de Benavides, O.P., the University founder and the third archbishop of Manila.

“We acknowledge the importance of this partnership, and we express our full support to educate voters for the May 2022 polls,” Ang said in his speech at the Benavides Garden.

The Rector also recognized the University’s role in raising public awareness and fighting misinformation and disinformation this election season.

“UST would like to contribute a significant degree towards combating misinformation and disinformation, raising public awareness and deeper understanding of confounding issues of national and international import affecting the general population and providing access to information so that our voters will have informed choices in the exercise of their democratic right to chose the leading leaders,” Ang said.

Gauging national candidates

Ramos said the debates aimed to grasp the candidates’ competence, authenticity, integrity and agendas.

“Through these debates, our electorate will be able to assess whether candidates are in touch with the lives and outlook of our people. We hope to hear persuasive arguments and their priorities and solutions to the ills that confront our nation,” Ramos said in his speech. 

Microsoft Philippines public sector director Joanna Rodriguez added that the partnership would help inform voters to make “intelligent decisions.”

“Through this partnership, CNN, Microsoft and UST can help every Filipino voter be informed and make intelligent decisions about the candidates who [they will] vote into office in the highest post of our country,” Rodriguez said.

UST was the venue for the 2016 vice-presidential debates and 2019 senatorial debates of CNN Philippines. 

This year, nine presidential candidates will attend the debate on Feb. 27, while seven vice-presidential candidates will attend the Feb. 26 debate. 

The tandem of former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio will be absent from the event. Marcos cited a conflict of schedule while Duterte did not give a reason.

Vice-presidential candidate and Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza will also skip the debate despite his previous confirmation, citing a medical procedure to replace his knee.


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