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Real nuisance candidates

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On 10 October, the eve of the period for filing of certificates of candidacy (CoC) for the 2019 mid-term elections, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) reminded filers not to make the process a “circus of supporters.” The Comelec was referring to too many supporters tagging CoC applicants inside the Comelec office in Intramuros, Manila. Its remedy was to limit to four the number of supporters accompanying a prospective candidate when he files his CoC.

While the Comelec succeeded in making the week-long CoC filing orderly and peaceful, the vicinity of Palacio del Gobernador was at its usual fiesta-like atmosphere that characterizes every CoC filing event. Supporters holding banners with the face of their candidates were marching and chanting the names of their bets. Drumbeating adds to the noisy crowd. It was a circus just the same.

The Comelec perimeter turned more circusy when “clowns” came and filed their CoC. It can’t be helped that these likely “nuisance candidates” make a mockery of the senatorial elections.

Why, will voters pick a self-proclaimed “king of the Philippines?” Or a candidate nicknamed “Jesus Christ” who promised to stop the reimposition of the death penalty and “protect the universe.” Or Rastaman, who identified himself as a half-man, half-zombie and promised to stop the invasion of the country by the Chinese.

A Comelec official warned those who make a mockery of the process of filing CoC that they will be declared nuisance candidates. But Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian went further by filing a bill penalizing nuisance candidates with a P50,000 fine.

The senator said he filed Senate Bill 911 amending Sections 69, 261 and 269 of the Omnibus Election Code to prevent the Comelec from wasting precious time and resources on individuals who don’t really intend to run for public office. The poll body, however, is lukewarm to the proposed law as it may discriminate against poor individuals who seek public positions.

The Comelec may have a point. After all, the real nuisance candidates are not “Jesus Christ,” the King of Maharlika Kingdom or Rastaman who all are pretty harmless individuals compared to the “otso-otso” senatorial bets of the opposition party. Obviously resourceless, the former cannot mount a national campaign and cannot reach the point of disrupting Filipinos’ lives through a public office unlike what yellow politicians are doing right now with their counterproductive criticisms of the Duterte administration.

Who can be more a nuisance than Liberal Party (LP) Sen. Bam Aquino and Magdalo partylist Rep. Gary Alejano for painting a bad picture of the campaign against illegal drugs and modernization of public utility vehicles and echoing Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV’s malicious lies that the President is corrupt, a dictator and promoter of extrajudicial killings. The two members of the opposition’s senatorial slate are dangerously in denial of the drug crisis affecting millions of Filipinos and climate change affecting the health and safety of the people.

Beefing up the list of real nuisance candidates are lawyers who are also on a mission to distract the government from bettering the lives of Filipinos by belittling the enviable accomplishments and consistently high approval and satisfaction rating of President Rodrigo Duterte.

The Comelec is expected to purge the senatorial candidates list of “clowns,” leaving the real nuisance bets in contention. For voters who lack the talent of discerning the mediocre from such “dangerous” candidates, they can take the cue from LP’s chairman, Vice President Leni Robredo.

Robredo conceded on Friday that opposition candidates will have an uphill climb in winning seats in the Senate because the President remains popular.

“Elections in May 2019 will be tough for the opposition. The President is still very popular, and the candidates that he will endorse would have… you know… would benefit from the President’s popularity,” Robredo was quoted as saying at a leadership forum in Washington DC this week.

She also said the opposition coalition is fielding only eight “really very good” candidates instead of 12. If they can only get eight candidates, it can mean only a few want to be a nuisance.

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