The Philippine Star Life : House panel OKs bill seeking jail, fine vs nuisance candidates

News & Interviews
15 July 2021

By EDU PUNAY | The Philippine Star Life

Will there be no more Eddie Gil or Elly Pamatong in future elections?

A House panel has approved a bill seeking to impose penalties against nuisance candidates in elections, including imprisonment and a fine of at least P100,000.

The committee on suffrage and electoral reforms has approved House Bill No. 9557, the substitute measure to bills seeking to amend the provision of Batas Pambansa No. 881 or the Omnibus Election Code on nuisance candidates.

The bill principally authored by Samar Rep. Edgar Mary Sarmiento, a copy of which was obtained by The Philippine STAR, seeks to put more teeth to the law, which currently does not penalize nuisance candidates and only disqualifies them from elections.

Proponents cited the need to deter repeated filing of candidacies of nuisance candidates that they said “put the election process in mockery or disrepute or cause confusion among the voters by the similarity of the names of the registered candidates or by other circumstances or acts which clearly demonstrate that the person has no bona fide intention to run for the office for which the certificate of candidacy was filed.”

"The results of an election is the embodiment of democracy and, thus, must not be made the subject of mockery by these so-called nuisance candidates."

They stressed that nuisance candidates intend to “prevent a faithful determination of the true will of the electorate.”

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

Under HB 9557, which was submitted to the House plenary before adjournment of sessions last month, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) shall impose a fine of “not less than P100,000” on a nuisance candidate.

It also seeks to impose the same penalty on “any person found to have conspired with or induced the candidate to file a certificate of candidacy.”

Should a candidate already declared nuisance continue to campaign, the penalty of imprisonment of “not less than one year but not more than six years and shall not be subject to probation” shall be imposed.

“Any person declared as a nuisance candidate by final and executory judgment, who continues to misrepresent or hold oneself out as a candidate by continuing to campaign thereafter, or any public officer or private individual who knowingly induces or abets such a misrepresentation, shall be liable for an election offense and be subject to the penalty provided for in Section 264 of this (Omnibus Election) Code,” read the committee report.

Other authors of the bill are Quezon City 2nd district Rep. Precious Hipolito Castelo, Nueva Ecija Reps. Micaela Violago and Ria Vergara, and Negros Occidental Rep. Juliet Marie Ferrer.

The law defines a nuisance candidate as “a person who files a Certificate of Candidacy to put the election process in mockery or disrepute or to cause confusion among the voters by the similarity of the names of the registered candidates or by other circumstances or acts which clearly demonstrate that the candidate has no bona fide intention to run for the office."