MANILA – Aspirants for the two top elective posts in the country will face one another in face-to-face debates ahead of the May 2022 polls, according to the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

“It will be face-to-face (debate) among candidates. candidates will be in the same place will be debating in person but the audience will be virtual,” Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said in a television interview.

He said the Comelec is planning to hold six debates for president and vice president.

“We are looking to have essentially six debates — three for president and three for vice president (VP). We have three presidential debates as a general rule. Last election, we had one vice presidential debate which CNN hosted,” Jimenez added.

Jimenez added that they are also looking to add more debate schedules for those who are vying for the second highest post in the land.

“This time we are hoping to expand the number of VP (vice president) debates seeing how VP is elected independently of the president. They might have their own debate series,” he said.

Before the May 2016 polls, the poll body held three debate series for presidential candidates which were held in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao while Manila hosted the VP debate.

The Comelec also announced that there will be changes in the conduct of campaign activities for next year’s elections.

“The most prominent feature I see is that we would be regulating the number of people who can participate in in-person campaigns,”  Jimenez.

The poll body official added that the number of individuals would also depend on the quarantine status of the area.

“It’s likely going to be determined in large part by the alert level in a particular place,” he said.

Jimenez added that the guidelines will determine on how many people will be able to participate in the campaign group.

“We are going to systematize that so that we have rules to apply all over the country that will define how many people can be in an in-person campaigning entourage at any given place,” he said.

The Comelec is currently in the process of crafting campaign guidelines for next year’s polls.

Candidates who are seeking for national positions have 90 days to campaign which will begin on February 8 and will run until May 7, 2022.

A total of 45 days of campaign are given to those running for local positions which are set to start on March 25 until May 7, 2022.

The election period for the May 2022 polls will be from January 9 to June 6, 2022.

Some parts of the country, including Metro Manila, are placed under the five-tier alert level system while other areas remain under old quarantine classification schemes amid the coronavirus pandemic.