Comelec prohibits candidates from engaging in theatrics
The usual fanfare that goes along with the filing of certificates of candidacy (COCs) may be a thing of the past.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has limited the number of supporters who may accompany national candidates in an attempt to make the process a “dignified” exercise.
If in the past it was a free-for-all, the Comelec now limits to only four the number of people who may accompany senatorial candidates in filing their COCs at the poll body’s head office at Palacio del Gobernador in Intramuros, Manila.
For party-list applicants, only 10 are allowed, including the group’s five nominees.
Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said on Wednesday that the limit was put in place to help ensure that the five-day COC filing — Oct. 11, 12, 15, 16 and 17 — won’t be as rambunctious as it was in previous years.
“We want to emphasize that our goal is to make sure that the filing [of COCs] is dignified. We don’t want it to turn into a circus of supporters,” Jimenez said.
“We also don’t want it to be rowdy and disorderly. That is why we are controlling the process.”
Hordes of supporters
Traditionally, politicians often bring hordes of supporters whenever they file COCs. In some cases, they even tag along a marching band to give their filing a fiesta-like atmosphere.
While it respects the practice as an exercise in one’s freedom of assembly, the Comelec hopes that candidates will “take the initiative” to do away with theatrics, Jimenez said.
Nonetheless, he added, the poll body has coordinated with authorities to help ensure that the process will go as smoothly as possible.
As for the filing of COCs by local politicians, Jimenez said it would be up to local Comelec offices to put in place rules they deemed appropriate.
Based on Comelec Resolution No. 10420, candidates or their authorized representatives should submit to the poll body in person their COC from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Oct. 11, 12, 15, 16 and 17.
The schedule was based on Congress’ earlier request to the Comelec to move the period of filing, which was originally scheduled from Oct. 1 to 5, so that lawmakers could supposedly focus on their legislative work.
Once their COCs have been filed, appointed government officials as well as members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines are deemed resigned.
As part of its “exercise in truthfulness,” the Comelec has included in the COC a question on whether a candidate has been found liable for an offense that carries a penalty of perpetual disqualification from office.
Jimenez said this was one way for candidates to be open about their political history.
Election lawyer Romulo Macalintal said that rather than wait for a petition for disqualification, this item would give the Comelec the power to disqualify a candidate under existing jurisprudence.
As for officials with supposed ties to the illegal narcotics trade, Jimenez said their inclusion on any drug list was “not a ground for disqualification unless convicted by final judgment.”
An estimated 63 million voters are expected to participate in next year’s May elections. Of this number, more than a third are youths, or people aged 18 to 35 years old.
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