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Senators seek amendment to election substitution rule

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Several senators are expected to introduce a bill this week that would amend the rules on candidate substitution in the Omnibus Election Code of the Philippines.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Monday said some senators would push to ban the option to substitute an electoral aspirant who voluntarily withdraws his candidacy, lamenting that the rule has become a “tool” for political use.

“I and a few other senators will file this week a law that will remove the substitution criteria. Definitely, the withdrawal criteria. Because there are two – disqualification and withdrawal, so we’ll remove the withdrawal,” he said.

“And the reason for that is [this goes] not only on the national level [but] all the way to the local level. That’s not the spirit of the law. The spirit of the law is once you file, you don’t place placeholders in order to prolong the deadline,” he said. “We will file a bill to remove that so that it’s very clear that there’s disqualification and probably death that will be allowed for substitution.”

At least four other senators have expressed support to the proposed measure, including Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri and Senators Nancy Binay, Grace Poe, and Joel Villanueva.

Article IX, Section 77 of the Omnibus Election Code states that “if after the last day for the filing of Certificates of Candidacy (CoC), an official candidate of a registered or accredited political party dies, withdraws or is disqualified for any cause, only a person belonging to, and certified by, the same political party may file a certificate of candidacy to replace the candidate who died, withdrew or was disqualified.”

Based on the calendar of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for the 2022 polls, substitution for candidates vying for national or local posts is allowed until the end of filing of CoC on 15 November.

A similar measure was filed at the House of Representatives earlier with Deputy Speaker Rep. Rufus B. Rodriguez’s House Bill 10380 proposing to limit substitutions in cases of a candidate’s death or disqualification before election day.

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