In anticipation of the National Elections on May 13, 2019, CNN Philippines held the Senatorial Debate at the University of Santo Tomas Quadricentennial Pavilion on April 27, 2019, moderated by anchors Pia Hontiveros-Pagkalinawan and Pinky Webb.
The eleven senatorial candidates, namely, Magdalo Party List Rep. Gary Alejano, former Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Rafael “Raffy” Alunan III, former Biliran Rep. Atty. Glenn Chong, former Bayan Muna Party List Rep. Atty. Neri Colmenares, former Director General of the Bureau of Corrections Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, human rights lawyer Atty. Jose Manuel “Chel” Diokno, former San Juan City Maroy Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito, co-founder of the Asian Peace Alliance Samira Gutoc, former Solicitor General Atty. Florin Hilbay, election lawyer Atty. Romulo Macalintal, and former Deputy House Speaker Lorenzo “Erin” Tañada, III, answered questions on vital issues that the country faces.
Assisting Webb and Hontiveros as moderators were CNN Senior Correspondent Ina Andolong, Correspondent Anjo Alimario, and Political Analyst Dindo Manhit as panel members.
Questions revolved around the three themes of the debate: 1) Keeping Filipinos Safe; 2) Improving the Quality of Life of Filipinos; and 3) Building for the Future of Filipinos. Specific questions were gathered from the public through social media and were consolidated for the debate. Among the issues tackled were: The issue of debt traps and confidential loan deals, illegal Chinese workers in the country, and disputes over the West Philippine Sea.
Senatorial candidates had one minute to give their answers and were given another 30 seconds to reply to a follow-up question or provide a rebuttal.
The debate aired live on free-to-air Channel 9, Cignal TV Channel 10, Destiny Cable Channel 14, and Sky Cable Channel 14. It was also livestreamed on CNNPhilippines.com, iFlix, HOOQ, and on the official CNN Philippines Facebook page.
The University also previously hosted the Vice Presidential Debates, similarly organized by CNN, in 2016 at the same venue.