Penalize nuisance bets, senator suggests

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian has filed a bill that would impose fines on nuisance candidates for local and national elections going forward, but at least two officials of the Commission on Elections think it’s not a viable solution.

In filing Senate Bill 911, Gatchalian seeks to amend Sections 69, 261, and 269 of the Omnibus Election Code. It states that while the 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 the commission.

But Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said the proposal may be “difficult to operationalize” and may create a chilling effect” to persons who want to run for an elective position.

Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon also told GMA News Online that Gatchalian’s bill would discourage underprivileged aspirants from seeking electoral posts, and that weeding out nuisance candidates was already part of the poll body’s responsibilities.

“It’s difficult to operationalize because how can you decide, with just one look, that a candidate is a nuisance? It doesn’t apply to all cases,” Jimenez said in a telephone interview with GMA’s “Unang Balita.”

“For me, those who don’t have money could be penalized, so they would be afraid of filing [candidacies],” Guanzon said. “It could be discriminatory to candidates who think they can run, but find out later that they could be nuisances, when it’s not their fault.”

“If [the candidates] believe they have the ability [to serve in elective posts], why would I penalize them as ‘nuisances,’ when it’s our job [at the Comelec] and we do it for free?” she added.

Gatchalian’s proposal states that if an individual is proven to have no genuine intention to run for public office, the person shall be guilty of an election offense and shall face a P50,000 fine.

However, Jimenez said: “That means you would be creating some sort of risk, where you would file a CoC if you are willing to risk that you won’t be declared a nuisance.”

Although the Comelec has grounds for declaring nuisance candidates, the spokesman said it “could not predict” such persons all the time. “Sometimes even those [candidates] you are really sure [of running] become nuisances,” Jimenez said.

In a separate interview on Unang Balita, Gatchalian said his bill aims to penalize those who want to use the filing of CoCs to see themselves on television and get their 15 minutes of fame through the media.

“In the filing [period], we saw a person who said he was Jesus Christ, who was a boyfriend of Kris Aquino, [and admitted] he filed because he wanted to be on TV,” the senator said.

“So the intention to file [a CoC] isn’t to serve the people, but to appear on TV as a gimmick to be talked about. So it means the person’s intention isn’t really to serve,” Gatchalian added.

A total of 152 senatorial aspirants filed their certificates during the five-day period set by the Comelec, while 185 party-list groups enlisted to run for seats in next year’s elections. Macon Ramos-Araneta

The official list of candidates for the midterm elections would be released on Dec. 15, the poll body said. 

Topics: Sherwin Gatchalian , Commission on Elections , Omnibus Election Code , James Jimenez
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