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 Four presidential aspirants for the 2022 Philippine National Elections have so far declined to participate in the debate to be sponsored by Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI) on February 15.

SMNI is a broadcasting media arm of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ Church led by the self-proclaimed "Appointed Son of God" Pastor Apollo C. Quiboloy. 

Senator Manny Pacquiao on Monday said in a statement that he could no longer participate the debate citing numerous allegations to the pastor such sex trafficking charges in the US and his pending cyber libel complaint against him.

“I cannot, in good conscience, be part of any activity organized by a man wanted for detestable crimes and who unconscionably used the name of the Lord in vain for religious scams,” Pacquiao said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Senator Panfilo Lacson said in a tweet that he and his running mate, Senate President Vicente Sotto III, will skip the debates since Quiboloy have already endorsed his candidates for the coming elections.

"With all due respect and giving regard to common sense, SP TIto Sotto and I are skipping the SMNI debates. The network’s chairman, Pastor Quiboloy has already openly endorsed his preferred presidential and vice-presidential candidates," he said.

Vice president Leni Robredo on her part will instead meet the leaders and supporters in Panay Island.

"She will be unable to attend this privately sponsored event, but will definitely be present for all the upcoming COMELEC sponsored and accredited debates,” Robredo's spokesperson Barry Gutierrez said in a statement.

Manila Mayor Isko Moreno will not also attending the debate due to a "full schedule," as he was reportedly campaigning in Samar with his ticket.


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