Manila Bulletin : House bills ban substitution; declare bets automatically resigned from current post

14 October 2021

By Ben Rosario | Manila Bulletin

A senior House of Representatives official has filed bills that will prohibit substitution of candidacy after the deadline for filing and make mandatory the resignation of an incumbent elective official who is running for another position.

Deputy Speaker and Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez sought approval of the two election reform measures, saying that it is high time to end such practices that many believe to be bordering on improper to outright indecent acts.

“These twin measures aim to put an end to practices by politicians and political parties that tend to put in doubt the integrity of our elections,” said Rodriguez after filing the two bills on Wednesday, Oct. 13.

Under Bill No. 10380, a political party would be prohibited from substituting any candidate unless the latter dies or is disqualified.

Rodriguez filed the bill a few days after Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa practically admitted not being a serious candidate for president.

In media interviews, Dela Rosa, who filed his certificate of candidacy as presidential candidate of PDP-Laban, said he merely followed party decision about the filing and that he is willing to give up his candidacy if Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte will change her mind and run for president, instead.

Rodriguez said the Omnibus Election Code allows the substitution of a candidate in case of death, disqualification or withdrawal of another aspirant.

“While there is nothing wrong with substitution in case of death or disqualification which is justifiable, substitution because of withdrawal, or what others call voluntary substitution, may pose serious questions and may lead to the manipulation and mockery of the election process,” he said.

The Mindanaoan solon explained: “Withdrawals could lead the voting public to believe that the candidate who withdrew, or even the political party or substituting candidate, is not really serious.”

He pointed out that the election law empowers the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to disqualify an aspirant who filed his COC to put the election process in mockery or disrepute.

“As such, any person who has no real intention to run and only filed for candidacy as a place holder (for another aspirant) should be declared as a nuisance candidate,” Rodriguez stressed.

He also filed HB 10381 seeking to restore the old provision in the election law that declared an incumbent as resigned ipso facto (by that very fact or act) upon filing his COC for another position.

The Fair Elections Act of 2001 (Republic Act No. 9006) scrapped the resignation declaration.

“It is high time to reinstate the repealed provision on elective officials being deemed resigned once they file their certificates of candidacy, but only if they file for another position different from the ones they are currently holding,” Rodriguez said.

“This would force aspirants to take running for higher office seriously and to stop manipulating and mocking the electoral process. It would also make more people believe in the integrity of our elections,” he said.

He said the old rule, if restored, would apply to all incumbent elective officials, whether running for higher or lower office.