Santiago pulls out of March 20 presidential debate

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago on Thursday (March17) said she will not attend the second presidential debate organized by the Commission on Elections in Cebu on Sunday (March 20) as she will undergo a clinical trial for a new anti-cancer pill.

“I am very sorry to miss out on the debates, but it would be a disservice to the country if I forego the opportunity to get rid of my cancer completely and strengthen myself further to serve the Filipino people,” Santiago said in a statement.

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Santiago, who was diagnosed with a stage 4 lung cancer back in 2014, said she joined the international clinical trial to gain free access to the medication of the still unnamed anti-cancer pill.

The trial requires Santiago to "report for outpatient radiation treatment at the hospital daily for a short period."

The senator, who has been lagging behind in surveys, said she will try to participate in the next and last presidential debate on April 24 if the ongoing treatments do not inhibit her.