In a radio interview, Jimenez said security has been tightened in and around the Capitol University where the debate will be held at 5 p.m.
Philippine National Police (PNP) Regional Director Chief Supt. Lyndel Desquitado said they are prepared for the “big event,” along with the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Desquitado said they have already inspected the debate venue and checkpoints have been set up across the city.
The police official also said they have urged local residents to help the police and the military in the peacekeeping efforts.
To take part in the debate are Sen. Grace Poe, Vice President Jejomar Binay, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, Manuel Roxas II and Sen. Miriam Santiago.
The “PiliPinas Debate 2016,” organized by GMA 7 and the Inquirer in cooperation with the Comelec, will start in the afternoon. Each of the participants would be given one minute to give his or her opening statements and 90 seconds to answer a question, Jimenez toldMagnum radio.
The three major topics in the debate are peace and security, poverty alleviation and agriculture.
With many Filipinos expected to stay home today, Malacañang said they should sacrifice a little by watching the debate to know the candidates better.
“These will just be two hours of our busy schedule and on a Sunday when everyone wants to relax and de-stress a bit. Maybe this is a little sacrifice for the country – that we all watch, talk about the answers and the questions themselves and through this our decision for the country will be aided,” Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office Undersecretary Manuel Quezon III said over dzRB.
He said the people should realize the real winners in these debates would be themselves and the country in general.
“This becomes the way for the candidates to really face the important questions and give everyone time to reflect,” Quezon said.
Senate President Franklin Drilon also urged voters to tune in to the televised debates so they can make more informed decision come May 9.
He said the debates would provide voters with information about the plans and platforms of candidates that they could use as basis on who to elect as the next president and vice president.
“I hope that the public will not miss this chance to tune in and listen to the answers that will be given by those who want to lead this country for the next years, and if they really can continue the progress which we have already made in the past six years,” he said.
“These debates will give the voters throughout the country an important mechanism to know where the candidates stand on critical issues, such as on the fight against corruption, poverty alleviation, ending political dynasties, job generation and tax reform.”
If the Comelec decides to hold debates for the senatorial candidates, he would definitely participate in all of them, Drilon said.
“I will welcome any such opportunity to present my platforms and my suggestions, as a veteran lawmaker, on what political, social and economic reforms we need to undertake to ensure our nation’s continued progress,” he said. Drilon is running for reelection.
Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, national chairman of Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines (CDP), said his party would choose its candidate based on their statements in the debate.
“The presidential candidates must tackle the clamor for Mindanao is for a federal system of government, so that we can let each region of Mindanao, not only the Bangsamoro people, develop by giving them federal status,” Rodriguez said.
Another presidential debate sponsored by The Star, TV5 and the BusinessWorld is scheduled in Cebu on March 20. A third debate will be held in Luzon sponsored by ABS-CBN and Manila Bulletin.