MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has announced its support for the proposed bill that seeks to penalize those who will be declared ‘nuisance candidates’.
Under House Bill 9557 is the provision that will mete out a penalty of Php100,000 to a nuisance candidate and his supporter.
Director Maria Norina Tangaro-Casingal, head of Comelec Law Department said that under Section 69 of the Omnibus Election Code, a candidate is considered a nuisance if he is found guilty of making a mockery of the elections, running to cause confusion for bearing the same name with another candidate, and showing no real intention to run for a position.
“We support the imposition of the fine, the P100,000,” Casingal said.
“And we also would like to propose that those who have been declared as nuisance candidates be disqualified for running for 2 successive elections […] They can no longer substitute, your honor, if they have been declared as a nuisance candidate,” she insisted.
Senate Committee on Electoral Reforms chairperson Imee Marcos, however, asked Comelec first of a more detailed data on previous candidates who were declared a nuisance for the panel to further study the issue.
“We should have the data and the experience to compare. Nagdadahan-dahan din tayo kasi ayaw din ng Supreme Court na palibhasa […] sinasabi na hindi masyadong di kilala o walang pera dahil o walang partido, hindi naman basta-basta i-disqualify,” Marcos said.
Election lawyer, Atty. George Garcia, on the other hand, said that rather than meting out penalties or fines straightaway, the law must be amended first to clear out the details on the merits of declaring somebody a nuisance candidate.
Garcia believes the penalties will cause undue concern or fear among ordinary Filipinos who may have intentions of running for any government position.
“Minsan, halimbawa sinabi lang na ‘meron ka na bang political history? Nakatakbo na ba ikaw kahit barangay chairman man lang o naging barangay tanod?’ Hello? Nasaan sa batas natin na dapat naging barangay tanod o barangay chairman o kung anuman? Pero ‘yon, maniwala kayo’t sa hindi, pagka naghi-hearing patungkol sa nuisance, nasasabi ‘yun. Nababanggit. Pero wala naman sa batas ‘yon,” Garcia said.
“Kung ‘yon pa rin, yung Sec. 69 pa rin na nagde-define ng nuisance candidate, tapos bigla ka lang magdadagdag ng fine at saka ng perpetual disqualification to hold public office, halimbawa, sa aking palagay, parang magbo-border na siya sa violation ng equal protection clause under the Constitution,” he further said.
Ateneo School of Government executive director Professor Edmund Tayao also underscored the need to closely look into the proposed bill.
“There are those who really want to offer themselves as an alternative candidate to the public; albeit, however, they don’t have the resources to conduct a respectable campaign. Kasi yun ‘yung definition natin ng nuisance candidate. Nade-declare ka’ng nuisance candidate kung nag-file ka ng candidacy mo, kandidato ka, but it turns out hindi ka naman makakapagkampanya nationally. This has to be looked into closely.”
Meanwhile, Comelec is set to release a tentative list of candidates for the 2022 national and local elections on October 29. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Harlene Delgado)