Sotto wants abused substitution rule in election law reviewed

Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Tuesday said there is a need for a review of the provision on substitution in the Omnibus Election Code, saying that it has been “abused.”

“The problem in the law is the third option, which is ‘when a candidate withdraws.’ That is what is being abused. We should amend that and remove it completely. If you are not ready and unprepared, why are you running for public office?” Sotto, a vice-presidential aspirant, said in a text message shared to reporters.

Article IX, Section 77 of Omnibus Election Code provides that: “If after the last day for the filing of certificates of candidacy, an official candidate of a registered or accredited political party dies, withdraws or is disqualified for any cause, only a person belonging to, and certified by, the same political party may file a certificate of candidacy to replace the candidate who died, withdrew or was disqualified.”

In a separate text message, Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III agreed that the provision on substitution was apparently abused.

“The extension to file [certificate of candidacies] up to November 15 is a prerogative given to political parties as one of their advantages over independents,” Pimentel said.

“However that period was given for serious contingencies (which may not have been foreseen or which though foreseen happened anyway) and was not meant to be part of strategies and tactics. Mukhang na abuse na nga if intentionally done na ang pag field ng “fake candidates”. A fake candidate is necessarily a nuisance candidate,” he added.

(It seems like it was indeed abused if the fielding of “fake candidates” is intentionally done. A fake candidate is necessarily a nuisance candidate.)

Under the Comelec’s calendar for 2022 polls, substitution for a candidate in a national or local post can be filed from the end of the COC filing period until November 15, 2021.

Earlier today, Deputy Speaker Rufus Rodriguez said an almost absolute ban on the substitution of candidates by political parties must be imposed so as not to make a “mockery” of the elections.

“It is lamentable that for the May 2022 elections, certain candidates for the presidency are perceived to be proxies for some personalities, even if they can be considered as serious aspirants,” Rodriguez said in a statement without mentioning any names. — BM, GMA News

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