Win’s bill seeks end to ‘circus’ of nuisance bets

NOTING that the filing of candidacy at the Commission on Elections has become a “circus”, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian urged the Senate to hasten the passage of a bill that seeks to penalize nuisance candidates and hold them liable for election offenses.

Gatchalian cited the numerous nuisance candidates who filed certificates of candidacy for senator in the 2019 midterm elections.

Gatchalian, who filed Senate Bill 911, which seeks to amend Sections 69, 261, and 269 of the Omnibus Election Code, said that while the Commission on Elections is mandated by law to receive certificates of candidacies as its ministerial duty, “the onslaught of candidates who do not intend to launch a viable campaign is wasting the precious time and resources of Comelec.”

“Nakita naman natin ‘yong mga kumandidato na alam mo namang hindi talaga seryoso o trip-trip lang ‘yong pag-file, like for example si Jesus Christ na taga-Cebu at saka ‘yong mga ex daw nina Kris Aquino at Mocha Uson. May King of Maharlika pa nga raw. Sana naman ay hindi nila babuyin ‘yong proseso,” he said.

The lawmaker argued that although the 1987 Constitution guarantees equal access to opportunities for public service, the Supreme Court has ruled that running for public office is a privilege, not a right.

“Natutuwa tayo na we have a lot of people who want to be involved in nation-building by offering themselves to be public servants. Pero siyempre itong pagkakandidato ay subject to the limitations imposed by law and must take into account practical considerations. This bill will penalize people who do not take this privilege seriously and merely use the COC filing period as a platform to disrespect our electoral process,” he stressed.

Under Gatchalian’s bill, the Comelec may cancel a COC if, after affording due process to the filing party, it finds that the certificate was filed to obtain money, profit, or any other consideration.