By Leslie Ann Aquino
An official of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) warned aspirants seeking elective posts in the May, 2019, mid-term elections not to make a mockery of the process of filing certificates of candidacy (COCs), lest they will be declared as nuisance candidates.
Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon issued the warning on Thursday, the first of the filing of COCs, as she noted past experiences in which over 50 percent of those who filed their COCs were disqualified and declared nuisance candidates.
“Last time, around 140 filed (for senator) but only 50 were qualified as the rest were disqualified. Most often because they were nuisance,” she said in an interview.
That’s why, Guanzon said, they are appealing to aspirants to take seriously the process.
“We are appealing to them that if they don’t have bonafide intention to really run…don’t file COC,” she said.
“Don’t make fun of the process or make it as souvenir for your FB (Facebook) because we have lots of work to do here,” said Guanzon.
“Democracy should not be treated as a joke,” she added.
Under Comelec rules, the commission can file motuproprio cases to declare a candidate as nuisance.
Aspirants who may be declared as nuisance candidates are those who filed their COCs to “put the election process in mockery or disrepute; or cause confusion among the voters by the similarity of the names of the registered candidates; or who, by other acts or circumstances, is clearly demonstrated to have no bona fide intention to run for public office.”
The Comelec Law Department will start screening all the applicants after the end of filing of the COC on October 17.
New COC form
The Comelec also reminded aspirants to use the new form in filing their COCs.
Comelec spokesman James Jimenez issued the reminder after some aspirants tried to submit to the poll body the old COC form.
One of these aspirants was former police officer AbnerAfuang who later returned and successfully filed his COC.
“There is a candidate earlier who unfortunately filed the wrong form…so the person was advised to fill out the new form. His candidacy was not rejected…he was just advised to fill out the new form,” he told the media covering the COC filing for senators at the Comelec main office in Intramuros, Manila.
“If you filled out the wrong form, it’s as if you didn’t file COC. That’s why we asked them to fill out the new form,” added Jimenez.
Under the law, no person can run for an elective position unless the aspirant accomplishes and files a sworn COC in the form prescribed by the Comelec.
The new forms, Jimenez said, are available at the Comelec field offices.
The new COC form includes a new question wherein applicants are being asked if they have had a history of being slapped with a perpetual disqualification penalty.
Question #22 in the COC forms states: “Have you ever been found liable for an offense which carries with it the accessory penalty of perpetual disqualification to hold public office which has become final and executory?”
Aspiring candidates should answer the question by ticking either the “yes” or “no” box.
Re-electionist Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III was the first to file his COC Thursday.
The senator, who was accompanied by fiancée Kathryn Yu, said he decided to seek re-election because he still has an unfinished business to be pursued in the Senate.
Asked about other senatorial candidates under the banner of PDP-Laban, Pimentel said: “Ako,andito na (I am already here)… Francis Tolentino, Harry Roque possible, SAP Bong Go possible… Monsour del Rosario, Bato (Dela Rosa), and Dong Magundadatu.”
Other early birds seeking Senate seats were former bayanMuna party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares, singer Freddie Aguilar, cardiologist Dr. Willie Ong, Marawi City civic leader Samira Gutoc-Tomawis of the Liberal Party, among others.
At least 13 new and existing party-list groups filed their Certificates of Nomination (CON) and Certificates of Acceptance of Nomination Thursday.
These include the KabayanPartylist, PartidoLakasngMasa (PLM), Party-list AkoBisdak-BisayangDako (AB-BD), Guardjanpartylist, One Unified Transport Alliance of the Philippines (1-UTAP) partylist Bicol chapter,Partidong Bayan angBida (PBB) partylist, PBA partylist, Manila Teacher’s partylist, Ang National Coalition of Indigenous People (ANAC IP) partylist, ABONO partylist, Coalition of Association of Senior Citizenpartylist, and Butil Farmers partylist. (With reports from Jel Santos, Analou de Vera, and Erma R. Edera)