Citing the numerous nuisance candidates who filed certificates of candidacy for senator in the 2019 midterm elections, Senator Win Gatchalian is urging the Senate to hasten the passage of a bill which seeks to institutionalize the definition of nuisance candidates and hold them liable for election offenses.
Gatchalian, who filed Senate Bill 911, which seeks to amend Sections 69, 261, and 269 of the Omnibus Election Code, said that while the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) is mandated by law to receive certificates of candidacies as its ministerial duty, “the onslaught of candidates who do not intend to launch a viable campaign is wasting the precious time and resources of COMELEC.”
“Nakita naman natin ‘yong mga kumandidato na alam mo namang hindi talaga seryoso o trip-trip lang ‘yong pag-file, like for example si Jesus Christ na taga-Cebu at saka ‘yong mga ex daw nina Kris Aquino at Mocha Uson. May King of Maharlika pa nga raw. Sana naman ay hindi nila babuyin ‘yong proseso,” he said.
The lawmaker argued that although the 1987 Constitution guarantees equal access to opportunities for public service, the Supreme Court has ruled that running for public office is a privilege, not a right.
“Natutuwa tayo na we have a lot of people who want to be involved in nation-building by offering themselves to be public servants. Pero siyempre itong pagkakandidato ay subject to the limitations imposed by law and must take into account practical considerations. This bill will penalize people who do not take this privilege seriously and merely use the COC filing period as a platform to disrespect our electoral process,” he stressed.
Under Gatchalian’s bill, COMELEC may cancel a COC if, after affording due process to the filing party, it finds that said certificate was filed to obtain money, profit, or any other consideration. Additionally, any person who is found by the COMELEC to have filed a COC to put the election process in mockery or disrepute; cause confusion among voters by similarity of the names of the registered candidates; obtain money, profit or any other consideration; or under any other circumstances or acts clearly demonstrate that the candidate has no bona fide intention to run for office, shall be guilty of an election offense and shall face a P50,000 fine.
“Sana maipasa na ang panukalang batas na ito sa lalong madaling panahon para mapigilan ang mga hindi naman talaga seryosong balak tumakbo sa pagfile ng mga COC,” Gatchalian said.