Manila Bulletin : Bill imposing heavy fine against nuisance bets readied for Lower House OK

By Ben Rosario | Manila Bulletin

Nuisance candidates in any election in the Philippines will not only be barred from running but will also be heavily fined under a bill that the House of Representatives is set to pass when session resumes next month.

The Lower House failed to approve House Bill No. 9557 on second reading when it adjourned session last week but principal author Samar 1st District Rep. Edgar Mary Sarmiento is confident the legislative measure will receive positive results before the start of filing of candidacy for the 2022 national elections in October.

Sarmiento filed the original bill that seeks to impose P100,000 fine on a person declared by the Commission on Elections as a “nuisance candidate.” Individuals or groups of individuals found guilty of having induced the candidate to file the certificate of candidacy will also be held separately liable to the P100,000 fine.

“The election of a country’s leaders is one imbued with sanctity that shall at all times be protected. The results of an election is an embodiment of democracy and thus, must not be made the subject of mockery by these so-called nuisance candidates,” explained Sarmiento.

He pointed out that while the Commission on Elections has to authority to reject the candidacy of a nuisance bet, “nothing stops any person from repeatedly filing or causing the filing of such nuisance.” Sarmiento said imposing a heavy penalty against those who maliciously file or cause the filing of nuisance candidacies could be considered a deterrent.

The Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms chaired by Negros Occidental 4th District Rep. Juliet Marie De Leon-Ferrer unanimously endorsed passage of the measure.

HB 9557 proposes to amend Section 69 of Batas Pambansa Bilang 881 or the Omnibus Election Code of the Philippines. This provision grants the Comelec the act on the petition of an interested party to cancel the certificate of candidacy of a bet who has placed the election process in mockery, disrepute or cause confusion among voters by the similiarity of the names of the registered candidates.

Comelec proceedings on the complaint will be “summary in nature” and recommendations are expected to be submitted within five days after the filing of documentary evidence.