The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has said there is no deadline for voluntary withdrawal of certificate of candidacy among qualified candidates for the 2022 national elections.
“A candidate may withdraw his Certificate of Candidacy anytime prior to election (on May 9),” Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said Monday.
Jimenez issued the statement following reports that presidential aspirant senator Christopher Go announced his intention to withdraw from the 2022 national elections due to personal reasons.
He said the November 15 deadline was for those who would withdraw their COC for them to be substituted by a party-mate.
He said the affidavit of withdrawal could be filed directly with the main office of the Comelec, the office in Intramuros, Manila for presidential, vice president and senators while for local posts, it could be filed in the regional election director concerned, the office of the provincial election supervisor of the province to which the municipality involved belongs or the office of the municipal election officer of the said municipality.
Jimenez also clarified that after November 15, there could be no substitution for withdrawals that were voluntary.
“The only deadlines we give are for substitution. For those removed from the race involuntarily by death or disqualification, the deadline on when you should submit your substitution is midday of election,” Jimenez said in a press briefing.
“Taking all of that under consideration, there is, in fact, no deadline for voluntary withdrawal. You can withdraw anytime, even on the day of the election.”
He said a qualified candidate could even voluntarily withdraw even after he or she was proclaimed winner of the election.
“Although such an event hadn’t happened yet, anything could happen during the election and this will be taken into consideration,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Comelec lamented that health protocols were not being observed amid the COVID-19 pandemic as political aspirants in the 2022 elections start going around the country.
He said: “It appears that the protocols are not being followed. For one thing, our guidelines are not yet applicable.
“It will take effect on February 8 for national candidates and March 25 for local candidates.”
In related developments, Comelec said parties with pending cases before the poll body should not speak about the case before the public, saying these statements were muddling the issue, if not pressuring Comelec.
Jimenez said petitioners and respondents should remember to respect the rule of pendente lite (case in litigation).
“The past few weeks, there have been a lot of statements, left and right, all trying to pressure the Comelec into deciding one way or the other. We like to appeal to anyone with any sort of pending action before the Comelec, to please respect the rule of pendente lite,” Jimenez said.
“Refrain from speaking about the case, let the pleadings (court filings) do the talking for you,” Jimenez added.
Jimenez then said that as it was, sobriety in the process was absent and it had become a chase for a sound bite and speculations.
Meanwhile, the Department of Health on Monday urged candidates running in the 2022 elections to avoid holding campaign sorties that might lead to overcrowding.
The Comelec has warned candidates while the Department of the Interior and Local Government has also barred political campaigns that might be a “source of infections,” said DOH spokesperson and Health Undersecretary Maria Rosairo Vergeire.
The DOH made the remark following reports of overcrowding during a political campaign in Nueva Ecija. Presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos had visited San Jose City, Nueva Ecija over the weekend, drawing thousands of people.
“We are again calling on officials and candidates not to hold events that we know might cause cause overcrowding and and in turn cause infections in the coming days or weeks.),” Vergeire told reporters,” Vergeire said.
“Christmas is nearing so we hope we can keep our number of cases down so the whole country can have a happy Christmas.),” Vergeire said.