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Fines, ban likely vs nuisance candidates, seat warmers

In 2016 alone, the agency said it recorded a total of 251 nuisance candidates all running for national positions of president, vice president, and senator.

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Not only should they pay hefty fines, but the Commission on Elections (Comelec) also believes aspirants declared as nuisance candidates should be disqualified from running for government office for two successive elections.

The poll body made the proposal at the Senate committee on electoral reforms hearing on Wednesday when the lawmakers also discussed the implications of the proposed House Bill 9557. It seeks to slap nuisance candidates and their co-conspirators with monetary penalties of P100,000.

It also seeks to hold them liable for an election offense which is punishable by jail time of at least one year under the Omnibus Election Code.

“We support the imposition of the fine,” Maria Norina S. Tangaro-Casingal, director of Comelec Law Department, told the Senate panel. “We also proposed that those who will be declared a nuisance candidate be disqualified for two successive elections.”

Section 69 of the Omnibus Election Code gives Comelec the authority to disqualify political aspirants who filed their candidacies “to put the election process in mockery” but it does not compel them to pay fines.

In 2016 alone, the agency said it recorded a total of 251 nuisance candidates all running for national positions of president, vice president, and senator.

While he is supportive of Comelec’s proposal, Senator Francis Tolentino echoed the sentiments of his colleagues and questioned if disqualifying nuisance candidates will stop them from serving as substitute candidates.

Tangaro-Casingal answered in the affirmative and explained that such aspirants will be barred from seeking any elective positions.

She also agreed with the lawmaker, saying that the monetary fines imposed on nuisance candidates can also be applied to those who filed their candidacies with the intention of being substituted.
“There’s no need to change the law if the Comelec can do that. The substitutor-substitutee can be penalized by the Comelec,” Tolentino said.

Legislators have been raising alarm on the supposed “abuse” of the rules of the substitution of the Omnibus Election Code.

On Monday, five senators filed a bill seeking to amend the substitution rule by banning the option to substitute an electoral aspirant who voluntarily withdraws.

A similar measure has been filed at the House of Representatives earlier with Deputy Speaker Rep. Rufus Rodriguez filing House Bill 10380 which proposes to limit substitution in cases of a candidate’s death or disqualification before election day.

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