Comelec lauded for banning candidate substitution after COC filing

By Filane Mikee Cervantes

May 16, 2024, 8:26 pm

<p>PNA file photo</p>

PNA file photo

MANILA – Lawmakers on Thursday commended the decision of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to ban substitution of candidates after the deadline for filing of certificates of candidacy (COCs) for the 2025 midterm elections.

In a press conference, Manila Rep. Bienvenido Abante Jr. said the poll body took a decisive action in eliminating electoral drama and surprises by banning such practice.

Abante was referring to the practice of some candidates engaging in last-minute withdrawal and substitution to gain an advantage in the elections.

“Wala na ‘yung surpre-surpresa, wala na ‘yung drama (No more surprises and drama),” Abante said. “Kaya ang desisyon ng Comelec ay isang paalala na sa halalan, hindi dapat gamitin ang loopholes o mga paraan upang mag-manipulate (That's why Comelec's decision is a reminder that you should not use loopholes or other practices to manipulate the electoral process).”

Abante said integrity and transparency are the cornerstones of a real democracy.

Lanao del Sur Rep. Zia Alonto Adiong, for his part, said bet substitution should not find a place in the country’s electoral system, and those who resort to such tactics and strategies should not be tolerated.

“It is a commendable act on the part of Comelec to really finally put an end to this mockery of our electoral processes,” Adiong said.

Adiong underscored the importance of protecting the electoral process from any strategy or tactic that would give the impression of a circus, as he expressed concern over the practice of surprising voters with sudden changes in candidates.

He said respecting the electorate’s right to be well-informed about candidates is crucial in making a well-informed decision.

“If you really have the intention to enter into public service and serve the people, you must also give the people, allow them to really know you, who you are, ano po ‘yung experience mo in public service para ma-scrutinize po nila kayo (what your experience in public service is so that they could scrutinize you),” Adiong said.

“Para magkaroon din po sila ng well-informed decision pagdating po ng election at hindi ‘yung magugulat na lang sila sa mga kandidato kasi bigla-bigla nalang nag-iiba ang mga mukha na nakikita nila (So that they would have well-informed decision come election day and they won't be surprised by the candidates changing suddenly),” he added.

On Wednesday, the Comelec en banc approved the proposal of chairperson George Garcia to limit the period for candidates' substitution due to withdrawal within the period for the filing of COCs for the 2025 midterm elections, set on Oct. 1 to 8 this year.

In the May 2022 polls, the Comelec allowed the substitution due to the withdrawal of candidates until Nov. 15, 2021. (PNA)