Comelec comes alive on Day 1 of COC filing
It was busy inside the main office of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in Intramuros, Manila on Thursday after it opened its door to accept the certificates of candidacy (COC) of aspirants for the 2019 midterm polls.
All eyes were on the political bigwigs and a handful of celebrities who have thrown their hat into the ring for the senatorial derby.
But there was more spectacle outside the Palacio Del Gobernador, which houses the Comelec headquarters, where other hopefuls spoke about their life and their lofty dreams for the country.
A man who claimed to be the ex-lover of the “Queen of All Media” Kris Aquino was the first to excite the audience.
Daniel Magtira, who is gunning for a Senate seat for the upcoming May 2019 midterm elections, professed his love for Aquino in front of the members of the press and bystanders after filing his COC.
“Kris Aquino, kung nanonood ka man ngayon e, umiibig pa rin ako sa ’yo,” Magtira said, drawing mixed reactions from the press.
This was not the first time that Magtira filed a COC at the Comelec. He hogged the headlines before for filing COCs in every election.
Shortly after, a certain Anson Tuana stepped forward.
Just like Magtira, Tuana set the crowd abuzz: He claimed to be the former boyfriend of resigned Presidential Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson.
Tuana said that he had a relationship with Uson when he was 22 years old. He is now 39.
Vying for a Senate seat with an aim to lower petroleum prices, Tuana said he filed a COC after President Rodrigo Duterte himself and Uson ordered him to seek a Senate seat.
“Nananawagan ako sa Shell, sa Petron, sa Caltex, maski dalawang piso, tatlong piso, isang piso; alam kong piso-piso lang yan,” Tuana said in an interview.
“Yun ang order ni President Duterte sa ’kin, yung commander in chief namin, ay saka si Mocha na dati kong girlfriend,” he added.
In his rambling speech, Tuana even claimed to have the support of Chinese President Xi Jinping, who supposedly provides him with such provisions from clothes to bodyguards.
When asked of his possible faceoff with Uson in the Senate race, Tuana said that it wasn’t a concern for him since they supposedly broke up “in good faith.” He added that he would even vote for her should she run.
Astronaut to ‘kinunot’
In an impassioned speech at the start of the five-day filing of COCs for the 2019 polls, “King Salam” Emilio Delfin Lacan Luisong Tagean said that it was time for the Philippines to have its version of astronauts and cosmonauts, which he called “kinunot.”
Not to be mistaken with the popular Bicolano dish though, Tagean’s kinunot stands for “a kingdom with new organization nationwide unite the technology.”
“If we have advanced technology, no country would meddle with us,” said the 50-year-old Naga resident.
Tagean said that he decided to join the senatorial race as he believes that now is the “right time” for him to serve in government, which he said he was denied of in 2010. Back then, the Comelec declared Tagean a nuisance candidate, a decision he claimed caused the Philippines to lose control of the Spratly group of islands.
Saying that the rights of hao-siao journalists should also be protected, Bulacan resident Christian Castro said that should he become a senator of the republic, he would work toward ensuring they would be taken care of and provided with such benefits as free housing.
The 40-year-old “publisher-editor” said that he feels for these individuals since they were not lucky enough to be accepted into credible news organizations. Journalists covering the filing of COCs reminded Castro, however, that these so-called reporters he wanted to protect had given the profession a bad reputation.
While both Magtira, Tuana and the rest of aspirants were lucky enough to be given a chance to file their COCs, Beth Lopez was denied entry into the Comelec premises.
According to Lopez, she was directed by Comelec guards to another building to file her candidacy.
“Alam ko dito magpa-file ng candidacy, pero sabi sa ’kin ng guard, dun (another building across the street) ako sa third floor. Nagpunta ’ko sa third floor, pero anong nangyari?” Lopez, who was outside the entrance gates of the Comelec headquarters, yelled.
“Saan ako talaga magfa-file ng COC? Masyado niyo na kong kinakawawa Comelec. No’ng tumakbo ‘kong senador, hindi nilagay ang pangalan ko sa balota, sinabi sa ’kin ng guard, dito magpa-file ako ng kandidatura bilang senador ng ating bansa,” she added, seeming frustrated.
The members of the Comelec security, however, said that the woman was instructed to first secure a copy of the COC application form at the office of Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez at the Education Information Division which is across the Palacio del Gobernador.
However, they said they do not know why Lopez was not able to secure a copy of the application.
Without the COC application form, Lopez can’t enter the building.
Comelec said that at the end of the first day, 27 senatorial aspirants filed their candidacies, including Magtira and Tauna.
In every election cycle, the Comelec never fails to see a host of characters try their luck to get themselves on the ballot. In fact, in the last general election, 90 of the 140 senatorial aspirants were deemed nuisance by the poll body.
Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon said that while they respect everyone’s political right, they do hope that those who “do not have the bona fide intention to run and launch a true campaign” would think twice against filing their COC.
“What we are saying is that if they are not serious, let us not make a mockery of the process or just for souvenir sake on Facebook. Democracy isn’t something that should be made a joke of,” Guanzon said.
Under the Constitution, there is no explicit provision against nuisance candidates. The only limitation that the framers set across all positions is that candidates seeking any government post should be natural-born Filipinos who can read and write.
For the 2019 midterm polls, Guanzon said that 18,092 posts are up for grabs—from senators down to councilors. She added that they expect to receive around 144,000 applications, similar to that in 2016.
In determining whether an aspirant is a nuisance candidate, Guanzon said that the existence of funds to mount a campaign isn’t their only metric.
She pointed out that if an aspirant does not have the “social and political capacity to campaign,” such as a nationwide organization or an advocacy to rally behind, it is likely that he or she could be declared a nuisance.
Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez added that other factors that can deem one a nuisance are: if his or her candidacy is seen to put the electoral process in disrepute and his or her name was designed to cause confusion among voters.
It is worth noting that for this midterm elections, the Comelec appears to be stepping up its efforts to ensure a more “dignified” poll process, starting with the cap it has put in place on the number of supporters that can accompany candidates in the filing of their COCs. With a report from Jovic Yee, PDI /ac
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