June 13, 2024

Bicol Express News

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Chiz: Amend election code to scrap substitution, withdrawal

Gov. Chiz Escudero. Bicol Express News photo

“Substitution” frenzy by candidates has rendered inutile the deadline set in filing of candidacies, leading to “gaming” the election process.

Sorsogon Gov. Chiz Escudero is pushing for amendments in the Omnibus Election Code to bring reason and coherence to a provision pertaining to withdrawal and substitution of candidates running for public office.

The former Senator earlier stated that the rules of the Omnibus Election Code allowing substitution of candidates until November 15 has rendered inutile the October 8 deadline for filing of the COC for the 2022 elections.

It also undermined the sanctity of the electoral process, he pointed out.

Escudero issued the statement following a frenzy of withdrawals by placeholders and substitution by candidates, who have previously filed for different elective positions, over the weekend ahead of the November 15 deadline for such under the law.

“Aside from prohibiting voluntary withdrawal/substitution, we should revert to the old rule that someone who has filed his/her COC (certificate of candidacy) cannot substitute,” the veteran legislator said.

“This is a more rational, reasonable and coherent rule if only to give rhyme and reason to the ‘last day of filing.’”

Under the election law, substitution of candidates is allowed in case of death, disqualification or withdrawal of individuals seeking elective position.

However, during the filing period of the COC, some aspirants and political parties have openly declared that they were running or fielding candidates as “placeholders”.

“The filing (of COC) should be a conscious, voluntary and selfless act to offer yourself to the ‘altar of ballot’ for the sole purpose of serving the people. It’s not done to please anyone, person, group or party, much less to play with and circumvent the intent of the electoral process,” Escudero said.

According to Escudero, he is in favor of retaining the “involuntary” substitution of candidates just to avert political violence and death during elections.

Involuntary substitution, he explained, happens when a candidate becomes ill to push through with the candidacy or dies.

Escudero, who has served the Senate from 2007-2019, is running again in next year’s May national elections for senator under the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC).