Comelec spox says voluntary provision of substitution rule being 'gamed'

Published November 11, 2021, 1:23 PM

by Dhel Nazario

The system for substituting aspiring candidates in the elections is being taken advantage of, the spokesperson of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said on Thursday, Nov.11.

Commission on Elections spokesperson James Jimenez (MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

“I completely agree. It’s clear that the system that’s allowed by law is being gamed. It’s being taken advantage of in ways that perhaps Congress originally did not actually foresee,” Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said in an interview on ANC.

He mentioned that while some believe that an aspirant should be an existing member of a political party before he or she can substitute someone, there is no such rule under the Omnibus Election code.

READ MORE: Comelec cites possibility of having ‘unprecedented’ number of withdrawal-substitution

“So while it might make sense to some people, that there should be some sort of requirement that the substitute should be an existing or a current member. There’s really nothing preventing new members from coming in and substituting for the candidate,” Jimenez said.

Sorsogon Governor and senatorial aspirant Francis “Chiz” Escudero has recently mentioned that he is in favor of maintaining “involuntary” substitution of candidates. This means that when someone becomes incapacitated or ill to actually press on with the candidacy and not just to voluntarily vacate the position just becase they don’t want to anymore or that they were simply there to warm up the seat.

As for this Jimenez, he said that the Congress will have the right to change this provision and that the poll body is merely enforcing the law.

READ MORE: Comelec says aspirant with cancelled COC not eligible for substitution

“Because remember, every person has that right to either run or not run. So substitution it’s sort of like a balance between those two needs, the need to ensure the freedom of a person to choose and then the need to protect the political party from disadvantage,” he explained.

“We believe that there is a good purpose behind it. Of course, again, it’s not to say that Congress cannot change it. If Congress has a difference of opinion then, well, Congress has plenary powers they can do whatever they want,” he added.

Jimenez also said that the law as it stands, had a laudable purpose in the beginning and Congress perhaps can now see a way to make it more rational in light of current events.