To level the election playing field, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian yesterday filed a bill to halt the option of substituting for an electoral aspirant who voluntarily withdraws candidacy in forthcoming elections.
Senate Majority Leader Miguel Zubiri and Senators Nancy Binay, Grace Poe, and Joel Villanueva are co-authors of the bill.
While Section 77 of the Omnibus Election Code allows 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, Gatchalian said this has been abused over the years.
He said the practice has become a mockery of the process of filing of certificates of candidacies.
In seeking to amend the Omnibus Election Code, Gatchalian proposed the replacement of a candidate only if the original aspirant becomes incapacitated.
“The ballot is sacred. So, it is necessary to protect the filing of candidacy during elections,” he said.
“The intention of the law is clear. This is to have an orderly and transparent election. Others have just abused it. Once you filed, that’s it, no substitution. You will only be replaced if you die or if you are disqualified,” Gatchalian added.
He likewise pointed out that before the 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. Macon Ramos-Araneta
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 said.