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Filing of COCs to proceed next week — Comelec chief


(Updated 6:14 p.m.) It's final. The filing of certificates of candidacy will proceed as scheduled next week, the chief of the Commission on Elections said Wednesday.
In a phone interview with GMA News Online, Elections chair Sixto Brillantes Jr. said he turned down lawyer Romulo Macalintal's request to have the filing period moved from Oct. 1-5 to Nov. 15 to 20 so the poll body could come up with a final list of candidates by January.
 
“We sent the resolution (on the date of filing of COCs) five months ago. Nobody was asking for an extension. Ngayon malapit na ang filing (magrerequest si Macalintal) ng extension,” Brillantes said. “If we extend for another two weeks, we could lose another two weeks in settling disqualification cases, nuisance candidates, among others." According to Comelec, a total of 18,022 elective posts are up for grabs in the May 2013 midterm elections, including 12 senators and 229 district representatives. Meanwhile, 172 new party-list groups are vying to compete in the midterm polls, while there are existing 113 groups which won seats in the 2010 elections. 'Nuisance candidates'
 
Brillantes said the poll body has set an early filing period to avoid the scenario in 2010 when the names of nuisance or disqualified candidates were still included in the ballots.    
He cited the case of presidential bet Vetellano Acosta from the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan, who was declared a  "nuisance " candidate during the 2010 elections just in March.  
 
Thus, Acosta's name was still included in the ballot at the time when the deadline of filing was in November, Brillantes said.  
 
He added that he  "couldn't understand why Macalintal keeps on saying we should extend the filing of COCs."
 
"He is an election lawyer... Meron ba siyang personal reasons? Wala man lang nagku-question. Si Macalintal lang," Brillantes said. "Is he representing any political party? Why are the political parties not asking (for an extension)? Bakit siya lang?"  
For his part, Macalintal denied allegations that he has “personal reasons” for requesting to move the deadline.
 
“I am not representing any political party. I just made a suggestion in the interest of a more credible election,” he said in a phone interview later in the day.
 
He noted, however, that the early filing of COCs would be “unfair to political parties whose petitions for accreditation have yet to be acted upon by Comelec.”
 
'Dummies'
Macalintal had asked the Comelec to move the filing of certificates of candidacy for the May 2013 elections supposedly to prevent appointed government officials from using “dummies” to file COCs for them on designated electoral positions. 
 
Macalintal claimed that by December 21, the deadline for substitution, government officials would then come in to replace the dummy candidates.
 
He also said the Comelec could still extend the filing of COCs even in automated elections, citing that for the May 2010 polls, the filing of COCs was set from November 20 to 30.
 
The veteran poll lawyer added that an extension could give more time for candidates to resolve their pending voter’s registration, which is a requirement in the filing of COC.
 
Also, an extension would allow the Comelec to decide on pending registrations of certain political parties, Macalintal said. — RSJ, GMA News
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