Can a candidate with a pending case be proclaimed? Here's what Comelec says

Published May 16, 2022, 12:33 PM

by Dhel Nazario

Leading senatorial candidates and party-list groups are already poised this week to be officially declared as the winners with their upcoming proclamations on Wednesday, May 18 and Thursday, May 19, respectively as announced by the Commission on Elections (Comelec). But what happens to those with pending cases?

Ballot boxes containing election returns from different countries arrive at the PICC in Pasay City where the canvassing of votes for Senators and Party-Lists is being held (Ali Vicoy/MB)

During the Laging Handa Public Briefing on Monday, May 16 Comelec Commissioner George Erwin Garcia said that in terms of disqualification cases, as long as there’s no final decision on the case, they have no choice but to proclaim the candidate.

He added that they can do this as long as there is nothing preventing them from conducting the proclamation. But the case is different when it comes to party-list groups.

“Sa party-list po iba po yung rule po natin doon. Ang nagiging rule po dati ay kapag ang party-list ay humaharap ng disqualification, hindi muna pinapaproklama (When it comes to party-lists, we follow a different rule. Before, the rule is that if a party-list is facing disqualification, it cannot be proclaimed yet),” he explained.

On the other hand, if the nominees are the ones facing disqualification charges, they cannot be proclaimed yet but the party-list will push through with the proclamation. However, Garcia said that the poll body is yet to discuss what their policy will be for this election.

In a press briefing, Comelec Acting Spokesperson John Rex C. Laudiangco said that the basic rule is that if a certain party-list has an intra-party issue such as factions and it won, the party-list will be proclaimed but the nominees will not be named until such time that the issue is resolved as who among them are the official ones.

“It all depends one, on the decision; second, ano na ba ang status nuong decision? (what’s the status of the decision?) As you will see kung mayroon man pong mangyayaring ganyan (if anything like that happens) we will be making a specific pronouncement be it on the senator or the party-list po,” he added.

In an interview in March, Garcia said that if a disqualification case based on vote buying was filed against a candidate before the proclamation, Comelec can suspend the proclamation. Garcia said that they can disallow a candidate from being proclaimed.

In the event that the candidate has already been proclaimed and is already serving as an elected official, Garcia said that they can still annul his or her proclamation.

“The rules on succession can now be effective,” he said.

He made the statement to erase doubts that it may already be “too late” if a candidate already gets proclaimed. As far as vote buying is concerned, Garcia stated that the poll body has all the resources, powers as well as the jurisdiction to implement policies.

Meanwhile, Laudiangco also explained that the poll body’s job is to determine the winning candidates and to proclaim them. After the proclamation, the jurisdiction on disposition for purposes of the election protest or petitions for disqualification or qualifications known as quo warranto goes to a specific tribunal.

But before such proclamation occurs, petitions to cancel the certificate of candidacy (COC); for disqualification; or to declare as nuisance candidate falls within the jurisdiction of the Comelec.