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Bill prohibiting candidate substitution due to withdrawal filed

/ 09:40 AM October 14, 2021
Sara Duterte's presidential bid appears to be over as COC filing closes

The Harbor Garden Tent at Sofitel Hotel in Pasay City where aspirants for national posts in the 2022 elections  filed their certificate of candidacy or COCs from October 1-8, 2021. (INQUIRER.net/John Eric Mendoza)

MANILA, Philippines — In a bid to end the “mockery of the election process”, a bill pushing to prohibit candidate substitution due to withdrawal was filed in the House of Representatives.

Under House Bill No. 10380 filed by Deputy Speaker and Cagayn de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez on Wednesday, a political party would be prohibited from substituting any candidate, unless for the reason of death or disqualification.

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Rodriguez said the Omnibus Election Code currently allows the substitution of a candidate in case of death, disqualification or withdrawal of another aspirant.

“While there is nothing wrong with substitution in case of death or disqualification which is justifiable, substitution because of withdrawal, or what others call voluntary substitution, may pose serious questions and may lead to the manipulation and mockery of the election process,” Rodriguez said.

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“Withdrawals could lead the voting public to believe that the candidate who withdrew, or even the political party or substituting candidate, is not really serious,” he added.

While the certificate of candidacy (COC) filing period for the 2022 national elections only ran from October 1 to 8, the substitution deadline is until November 15.

Only when the substitution period lapses could the Commission on Elections (Comelec) finalize the list of candidates.

“As such, any person who has no real intention to run and only filed for candidacy as a place holder (for another aspirant) should be declared as a nuisance candidate,” Rodriguez said.

One example of candidate substitution was President Rodrigo Duterte in the 2016 national elections.

Duterte said he would not run for president. He, however, later withdrew his candidacy for reelection as Davao City mayor and instead joined the presidential race as a last-minute substitute for Martin Diño, who was the standard-bearer of the PDP-Laban party at the time.

Automatically resigned

Rodriguez also filed on Wednesday House Bill No. 10381 which seeks to restore the old provision in the election law that declared an incumbent official as resigned ipso facto (by that very fact or act) upon filing his COC for another position.

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The Fair Elections Act of 2001 scrapped the resignation declaration.

“It is high time to reinstate the repealed provision on elective officials being deemed resigned once they file their certificates of candidacy, but only if they file for another position different from the ones they are currently holding,” Rodriguez said.

“This would force aspirants to take running for higher office seriously and to stop manipulating and mocking the electoral process. It would also make more people believe in the integrity of our elections,” he added.

Rodriguez said the old rule, if restored, would apply to all incumbent elective officials, whether running for higher or lower office.

“It would prevent incumbents from using their office, public funds and property, and influence to promote their candidacy. It would also put aspirants, whether bureaucrats who are forced to resign under the present law, and incumbent elective officials on a level playing field,” Rodriguez said.

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