Gatchalian seeks amendment to substitution rule for political candidates

Gatchalian seeks amendment to substitution rule for political candidates

By Ernie Reyes

MANILA — Senator Win Gatchalian today filed a bill banning the option
to substitute an electoral aspirant who voluntarily withdraws
candidacy in any forthcoming elections.

Senate Majority Leader Miguel Zubiri, Senators Nancy BInay, Grace
Poe, and Joel Villanueva are co-authors of the bill.

While Section 77 of the Omnibus Election Code allows the substitution
to replace an official candidate of a registered or accredited
political party who dies, disqualified for any cause, or withdraws from
the electoral race, the senator pointed out that the latter has been
abused for substitution over the years and is observed as a mockery of
the process of filing certificates of candidacies (COCs).

In seeking to amend the Omnibus Election Code, Gatchalian proposed the
replacement of a candidate if the original aspirant becomes
incapacitated.

“Sagrado ang balota. Kaya dapat lamang na pahalagahan natin ang
paghahain ng kandidatura tuwing eleksyon. Isang pribilehiyo ang
makapagsilbi sa bayan kaya dapat lamang na ang personalidad na unang
napili ng partido ay buo na ang loob na tumakbo,” Gatchalian said.

“Maliwanag ang intensyon ng batas. Ito ay ang gawing mas maayos ang
ating halalan at transparent. Naaabuso lang ng iba. Kapag nag-file ka,
‘yun na, hindi na dapat palitan. Papalitan ka lang kung ikaw ay
namatay o kung ikaw ay na-disqualify,” he added.

The rationale in limiting the grounds for substitution, the senator
explained, is aimed at further strengthening and institutionalizing
the political party system and leveling the election playing field in
the country.

Gatchalian further pointed out that before any official filing of
COCs, political parties often observe a vetting process, assessing and
ascertaining the qualifications of their members which include the
willingness, sincerity and commitment to be the party representative
for the contended elective position before they are nominated to be
the standard bearers for local and national positions.

Considering that the country has an election cycle of three years for
local positions, and six years for national positions, political
parties have sufficient time to nominate and select their respective
candidates, Gatchalian stressed.

Under the rules laid down by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for
next year’s elections, the substitute of an aspirant or official
candidate of a duly registered political party or coalition who died,
withdrew his or her candidacy, or was disqualified may file a COC on
or before November 15, 2021. No substitution due to withdrawal shall
be allowed after the said date.

The same Comelec resolution says that the substitute for a candidate
who died or was disqualified by final judgment may file a COC up to
mid-day of election day, May 9, 2022, provided that the substitute and
the original candidate have the same surnames. (AI/MTVN)

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