The Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino-Laban (PDP-Laban) faction led by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi on Thursday, Oct. 13, rejected insinuations that political parties that would avail of the period of substitution of their standard bearers in the upcoming May 2022 national elections are making a mockery of the electoral process.
Melvin Matibag, secretary general of the PDP-Laban Cusi wing, stressed that the ruling political party, which is fielding Sen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, as its presidential candidate, can avail of this provision stated under the Omnibus Election Code.
“If the real intent of the Omnibus Election Code envisioned only those who will die along the way or be disqualified, then why didn’t the lawmakers just state so? It’s that simple. If the law is clear there should be no room for interpretation,” Matibag said in a statement.
Under Article IX, Section 77 of the election law 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 (COC) to replace the candidate who died, withdrew or was disqualified.”
The party had earlier brushed aside speculations that Dela Rosa is merely a “placeholder” for presidential daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.
But Dela Rosa said he is prepared to withdraw his COC to give way to the presidential daughter if she decides to run for president under the PDP-Laban.
The Cusi faction had also denied that Dela Rosa, who filed his COC for presidency on the last day of the filing, is a “last minute candidate” saying he is on the shortlist of possible presidential candidates being vetted by the ruling party since it began its internal selection process.
Under the Comelec’s calendar for the 2022 polls, substitution for a candidate in a national or local post is allowed from the end of the COC filing period until 15 November 2021.
“It’s not a mockery of the elections law if the political parties use every available legal option, or time, for them to finally decide the candidates to field,” Matibag reiterated.
Earlier, Matibag said that PDP Laban is preparing to roll out its caravan to campaign for the tandem of Dela Rosa and his vice presidential running mate, Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go.
Still, the PDP-Laban official said there is nothing wrong if the party decides to have a substitute for Dela Rosa on or before 15 November.
“The Comelec resolution allows for substitution up to November 15. That is a process that we have to respect and recognize,” Matibag had said.
Last October 12, Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez filed a measure that would put a stop to the substitution of candidates during election time.
Rodriguez said the practice of some political parties to switch candidates has sown distrust in the country’s electoral process.
According to Rodriguez, substitution of candidate should only be done when a political bet of a party is disqualified or dies before the day of the election.
The lawmaker said this would also give the poll body time to screen and prepare the final list of candidates and print official ballots and related election materials.