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Comelec notary service blamed for nuisance bets

By: - Reporter / @mj_uyINQ
/ 12:45 AM October 19, 2015

A NOTARY SERVICE that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) offered last week is being blamed for the deluge of odd candidates for national elective positions.

The huge turnout of aspirants had easy access to the Comelec’s third-party notarial service right inside its Project Management Office (PMO) during the five-day filing of certificates of candidacy (COCs) at Palacio del Gobernador in Intramuros, Manila, according to a lawyer at the agency.

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Under Comelec Resolution No. 9984, all COCs to be filed for the 2016 elections should be sworn to before a notary public or any official authorized to administer the oath. Comelec employees are not authorized to administer the oath, even in their capacities as notary public.

But a Comelec insider said the law department rejected the new scheme when it was proposed and was probably right in opposing it because it resulted in too many “nuisance” candidates.

“If we did not make available a notary public inside, many of these nuisance candidates, who lacked this requirement, will be discouraged from pushing through with filing their COCs,” said the lawyer, who requested anonymity for fear of being reprimanded.

Looking for a notary public someplace else would have been a deterrent for those who just wanted a few minutes of fame, the lawyer added.

130 seeking presidency

At the end of the five-day period for the filing of COCs, a total of 130 people wanted to succeed President Aquino. A total of 19 candidates filed their bid for the vice presidency and 172 wanted to try their luck in the Senate derby, more than double the number during the filing of COCs for the senatorial elections in 2013.

In 2012, the Comelec booked a total of 84 senatorial contenders at the close of the COC filing. Only 33 made the final cut.

Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez defended the election body’s initiative of providing third-party notarial service, saying it served its purpose well.

“It doesn’t matter if we have more nuisance candidates now because the process of filing became more convenient to the legitimate filers,” he told the Inquirer in an interview.

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“There were legitimate filers who came here without document stamps so we [were able to deal with that],” Jimenez pointed out.

On his Twitter account, the official described as unprecedented the number of filers for president or senator. “The recently concluded COC filing was a record-breaker,” he said.

For the 2010 polls, 90 people filed COCs for president, 20 for vice president and 158 for senator.

Jimenez denied that the Comelec’s law department, tasked with accepting and processing the certificates, was entirely opposed to having a notary public right inside the PMO.

“What they were opposing is that the notary public will be seated next to them because under the law, the COCs shall be received by the law department. If it sits next to them, people might think the [notary public] is from the law department,” he said.

All throughout the filing process, the notary public conducted his business in another corner of the PMO, beside representatives from the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting who were acting as observers.

“We did that for the first time because we wanted to make the experience as easy for the filers as possible. It really means nothing, but the service that was provided to those who didn’t have the document stamps meant everything,” Jimenez said.

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