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House OKs bill imposing stiffer penalties vs. nuisance candidates

The House of Representatives on Tuesday approved on third and final reading a measure seeking to impose stiffer penalties against nuisance candidates.

House Bill 9557 or An Act Providing An Efficient Procedure For Declaring A Nuisance Candidate obtained 191 affirmative votes during the plenary session.

The bill aims to preserve the integrity of the electoral process and promote respect for it as an important facet of Philippine democracy.

Upon findings of substantial malice and bad faith, the bill mandates the Commission on Elections to impose a fine of not less than P100,000 on a nuisance candidate and any person named in the verified petition, who will be found to have conspired with or induced the candidate to file candidacy.

A nuisance candidate who also continues to campaign shall be held liable for an election offense and be penalized.

Citing the Omnibus Election Code, the measure 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. 

Samar Representative Edgar Mary Sarmiento, principal author of the bill, had said that filing candidacy during election season should not be made as a joke.

He believed that there is a reasonable need to employ more measures to deter the practice of indiscriminately filing nuisance certificates of candidacy just to mock the election or to attempt to shave votes off certain individuals.—LDF/AOL, GMA News