Revisit substitution law and the party-list system
Dear Chief Justice Panganiban:
By way of comment on your column “Q&A on substitution of bets,” (10/10/21) may I humbly state that:
The process for ousting nuisance candidates need not be time-consuming. The Commission on Elections (Comelec) may, on its own initiative, without waiting for a verified petition of an interested party, cancel the certificate of candidacy of a nuisance candidate (Section 69, Omnibus Election Code). This had been done by the Comelec in the past.
It is high time for Congress to revisit Section 77 of the Omnibus Election Code—which allows the substitution of a candidate who has withdrawn after the last day for filing of his/her certificate of candidacy by another one belonging to, and certified by, the same political party; and implemented by Comelec Resolution No. 10717, Aug. 18, 2021—because it does not contribute to the healthy and robust development of political parties. The reality is, the substitute who is not familiar with the political party’s platform of good government, objectives, and purposes can be forthwith sworn in as a member of the political party before the substitution.
Similarly, Congress should consider restoring the election offense of partisan political activity outside the campaign period (Section 80, Omnibus Election Code). This was set aside because of the ruling in Penera vs. Comelec (GR No. 181613, Nov. 25, 2009), which held that one is a candidate only at the onset of the campaign period even if he/she has filed his/her certificate of candidacy months prior to the campaign period and is now busy campaigning.
Your “ponencia” in the landmark case of Ang Bagong Bayani vs. Comelec (GR Nos. 147589 and 147613) on the matter of nominees of party-list organizations as belonging to the marginalized and underrepresented—which I think is faithful to the intent of the framers of the 1987 Constitution compared to the “ponencia” in Atong Paglaum vs. Comelec (GR No. 203766, April 2, 2013)—should be seriously considered by Congress to strengthen/give more teeth to Republic Act No. 7941 or the Party-List System Act.
More power to you and to your thought-provoking and must-read columns!
RENE V. SARMIENTO, Member, 1986 Constitutional Commission, former chair, PPCRV
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