Enactment of bills prohibiting substitution of candidates urgent - Makabayan bloc

The Makabayan bloc underscored the urgency of enacting a bill that would prohibit the substitution of candidates due to withdrawal as its members filed its own legislative proposal on Friday, Oct. 15.

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The six-man progressive bloc in the Lower House assailed reported plans of certain presidential candidates to act as mere place holders for politicians who did not file their certificate of candidacy for the 2022 national elections.

House Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna Carlos Isagani Zarate decried the alleged substitution scheme for making a “mockery of the electoral process and in a way of fooling the electorate.”

Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa of PDP-Laban had publicly admitted that he would give up his candidacy for president if presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio changes her mind about seeking re-election and would opt to run for president, instead.

The Lakas-CMD had also admitted that its candidate for president, a relatively unknown individual, may be replaced by Duterte-Carpio.

House Deputy Speaker and Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez assailed the substitution scheme for being abused by politicians. He filed House Bill 10380 that seeks to amend the Omnibus Election Code that allows substitution of candidates in case of death, disqualification or withdrawal of another aspirant.

HB 10380 seeks to prohibit substitution of any candidate unless he or she dies or is disqualified by the Commission on Elections.

“While there is nothing wrong with substitution in case of death or disqualification which is justifiable, substitution because of withdrawal or what others call voluntary substitution, may pose serious questions and may lead to the manipulation and mockery of the election process,” explained Rodriguez.

The Makabayan bloc filed HB 10387 that will also prohibit substitution by reason of withdrawal.

Zarate said that under the bill, "any candidate who has, in any way shown or expressed directly or indirectly, that he or she is only a pseudo-candidate or a placeholder for another candidate is prima facie evidence that said candidate has no bona fide intention to run for the office for which the COC has been filed."

Bayan Muna Rep. Ferdinand Gaite, also an author of HB 10387, said there should be an end to the substitution scheme that is considered as an “insult to the electorate.”

“Though the candidate’s ‘withdrawal’ and ‘substitution’ is allowed, this legal loophole must be plugged to prevent the circus-like atmosphere we already have during elections,” said Gaite.