Democracy Watch has expressed deep concern over how the withdrawal and substitution of candidates have become vulnerable to misuse and grave abuse.
In a statement on Wednesday, the group said, candidacy substitution is not a provision simply for “electoral strategy,” and it is also not meant to merely serve as placeholder for a substitution to occur later on.
“Running for a political office is not a decision one should make lightly, especially when it comes to running for a top or national post,” Democracy Watch said.
The group then called on the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to carefully screen those who have filed their certificates of candidacy (COCs) and determine their validity or if these electoral participants are just nuisance candidates in the coming elections.
“The Commission must therefore scrutinize each candidate based on the presence of a genuine intention to run for a particular position,” it said.
“Democracy Watch further calls on the COMELEC to uphold the sanctity of the electoral process – the sanctity of substitution – and to provide citizens with a list of legitimate candidates they can wisely choose from,” added Democracy Watch.
The group also called on voters to be responsible in exercising their right to vote.
It added that citizens must examine the candidates’ profiles and platforms as early as now to be able to choose leaders who can fight for the issues that matter most to them.
“Democracy Watch stands by the principle of voting public servants who advocate responsive governance, who stand against corruption, and whom Filipinos can hold accountable without the fear of reprisal,” Democracy Watch said.
“At the May 2022 elections, we have the chance to elect leaders that will uphold our principles and shape the next six years of our country’s future. The future of the country is in the hands of Filipino voters,” added the group.