Pacquiao supports removing 'withdrawal' as ground for substitution of candidacy

Presidential aspirant Senator Manny Pacquiao on Tuesday expressed his support to proposals removing withdrawal as one of the grounds for the substitution of a candidate.

Pacquiao, who is running for president under the Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino-Laban (PDP-Laban) faction of Sen. Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III, agree that this provision in the country’s election laws has been abused by political parties.

“‘Yung substitution na ‘yan gusto ko amyendahan din ‘yan dahil...inaabuso naman, siguro palitan, i-specify natin doon may substitution pa rin (I also want to amend that substitution rule because it is being abused. I think we should change it, but we need to specify substitution),” Pacquiao said in an interview during his visit to Benguet.

“Pero dun lang sa kung namatay ang nag-file, nasiraan ang ulo hindi na makatuloy ng kampanya, o nagkasakit nang malubha, ‘yun lang siguro ang puwedeng mag-substitute (It should only be applicable if the candidate who filed suddenly died, had a mental breakdown, had terminal illness. I think they can substitute),” the lawmaker said.

“Wala na ‘yung withdrawal, kasi na-abuse na e, niloloko ang (taumbayan) e (We should get rid of withdrawal criteria, because it is being abused. They are fooling the people),” he added.

On Monday, at least five senators filed Senate Bill No. 2439 to delete the word “withdrawal” from Article IX, Section 77 of the Omnibus Election Code and replaced it with the phrase “becomes incapacitated.”

Lawmakers who filed the bill were Senators Sherwin Gatchalian, Juan Miguel "Migz" Zubiri, Nancy Binay, Grace Poe, and Joel Villanueva.

Likewise, Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Senator Panfilo Lacson, who are also running for vice president and president, respectively, backed calls to amend the substitution rule in the election law.