POSTSCRIPT / September 23, 2021 / Thursday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Substitutes allowed until Election Day!

IT might surprise most people to know that the substitution of candidates in the May 2022 national elections who have died or have been disqualified by final judgment is allowed until noon of Election Day itself while the voting is already ongoing.

Such last-minute substitution is discussed below. But, meanwhile, the filing of certificates of candidacy for all elective positions will be ongoing next week (Oct. 1 to Oct. 8) under the calendar promulgated Feb. 10, 2021, by the Commission on Elections.

The eight-day period is also the time for filing the list of nominees, certificates of nomination and certificates of acceptance of nomination and affidavits of party-list groups, coalitions and organizations under the Comelec Resolution approved Jan. 13, 2021.

There is speculation on possible last-minute substitution of candidates reminiscent of then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s sneaking in shortly before the Dec. 10 deadline in 2015 as a substitute of the PDP-Laban party’s candidate Martin Diño who gave his slot to him, leading to his election as president.

Diño said he withdrew after the Comelec legal department moved to disqualify him as a nuisance candidate, along with 124 others.

“I feel insulted by Comelec. Kawawa naman ang aking pamilya, sobrang insulto ang inabot namin. (My family is pitiful with our having been so insulted),” he said.

The guessing this time is who among the presidential aspirants and the declared or soon to be registered candidates are mere decoys whose sudden withdrawal could open the door for a dark horse as in the Duterte switching in 2015, or result in a redrawing of battle lines.

Some aspirants have declared their intentions (Ping Lacson, Isko Moreno and Manny Pacquiao for president, and Duterte for vice president) while others may just jump into the ring at some opportune time (Leni Robredo, Sara Duterte-Carpio and Bongbong Marcos for president), but until today they are mere potential players.

On Oct. 29, the Comelec will start posting the tentative list of registered candidates. This will give them a chance to check their names as they are to appear on the ballot. They have until Nov. 8 to ask for any corrections.

November 15 (Monday) is the last day for the substitute of an official candidate of a political party or coalition who withdrew, died, or was disqualified by final judgment, to file a certificate of candidacy so it will be his name to appear on the ballot.

That is also the last day for the substitution of party-list nominees by reason of withdrawal, and the last day to petition for the exclusion of an overseas voter from the National Registry of Overseas Voters.

 Who may still sub on Election Day?

THE ULTIMATE deadline for substitution of candidates is not Nov. 15, but May 9, 2022, under Comelec Resolution No. 10695, promulgated Feb. 10, 2021.

The resolution gives the substitute of an official candidate of a political party or coalition, who died or was disqualified by final judgment until midday of May 9 to file a certificate of candidacy, provided that the substitute and the candidate replaced have the same surname.

We are not suggesting that somebody has to die to effect a final substitution before high noon on Election Day, when the ballots have been printed and are already being used at the voting centers. We’re just citing the resolution.

The same resolution sets the Election Period from Jan. 9 (Sunday) to June 8, 2022 (Wednesday), during which time certain activities are prohibited and the Comelec takes over specified government functions that are normally performed by other agencies.

The substitution that is allowed on Election Day itself beats the case of the late Magnolia W. Antonino who did not have to campaign but won a Senate seat as the substitute of her husband Gaudencio, then a candidate who died in a helicopter crash on the eve of the 1967 senatorial election.

It was possible that many of those who voted for “Antonino” were not even aware that her husband, who had gained a wide following with his reformist campaign against excessive congressional allowances, died the day before.

The substitution was done seamlessly because, as also provided in the Comelec resolution we cited above, the substitute and the candidate she replaced had the same family name.

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IN THOSE days, voters had to write on the ballot the names of their choices. These days, the ballot that is designed for scanning is extra wide and long because it lists the names of all the candidates with an oval opposite each name that the voter shades to choose that candidate.

To ensure that the voter is reading the correct registered names of the candidates, the Comelec has set Nov. 8 as the last day for filing a request for typographical correction (not replacement!) of a name on the ballot.

There is also the issue of how to list the candidates. In the case of party-list groups, for instance, since they are more than a hundred, those near the top have the advantage of being spotted ahead by the overwhelmed voter and are likely to have their ovals marked.

There used to be a scramble to be near the top, so some party-list groups put the letter A or the number 1 before their names to land ahead if names are arranged in alphabetical or numerical order. That had given rise to ridiculous names.

The Comelec minimized the jockeying by raffling the party-lists to randomly assign their position on the list. It set Dec. 6 as the last day to raffle accredited party-list groups to determine the order of their listing on the ballot.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of September 23, 2021)

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