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House leader wants ban on candidate substitution to avoid election 'mockery'

An almost absolute ban on the substitution of candidates by political parties must be imposed to put an end on the supposed mockery of the elections, Deputy Speaker Rufus Rodriguez said Tuesday.

"It is lamentable that for the May 2022 elections, certain candidates for the presidency are perceived to be proxies for some personalities, even if they can be considered as serious aspirants,” Rodriguez said in a statement without mentioning any names.

For Rodriguez, substitution must be prohibited unless the candidate-nominee of a political party dies or is disqualified before election day.

He said this practice would give the Commission on Elections (Comelec) more time to screen those who filed certificates of candidacy, prepare the final list of candidates, and print the official ballots and related election paraphernalia.

"If we maintain the present Oct. 8 COC filing deadline, the commission will have an additional time of more than one month to prepare for the elections. Alternatively, we can move the timelines closer to election day like setting Nov. 15 as the close of the COC filing period,” Rodriguez said.

Meanwhile, Rodriguez also proposed the restoration of the old rule requiring incumbent officials to resign or to be deemed automatically resigned upon the filing of their COCs for other positions.

The lawmaker said the resignation requirement would level the playing field among elective and appointive officials like Cabinet members who are running in elections.

He added that this would prevent officials from using their offices, public funds and their influence to promote their candidacies.

“A candidate would not agree to be a proxy for a dawdling, wavering or indecisive aspirant if he would have to give up his office. The resignation requirement would apply to all levels, national or local, whether aiming for higher or lower positions," Rodriguez said.

The filing of COCs for next year's elections ended last Friday, October 8.

Under the Comelec’s calendar for 2022 polls, substitution for a candidate in a national or local post can be filed from the end of the COC filing period until November 15, 2021.

Article IX, Section 77 of the Omnibus Election Code provides that “[i]f after the last day for the filing of certificates of candidacy, an official candidate of a registered or accredited political party dies, withdraws or is disqualified for any cause, only a person belonging to, and certified by, the same political party may file a certificate of candidacy to replace the candidate who died, withdrew or was disqualified.” —Anna Felicia Bajo/KBK, GMA News