Why substitution of candidates matters, according to Comelec spox

November 10, 2021 - 7:13 PM
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Comelec building
This undated 2016 photo shows the Commission on Elections office at the Palacio del Gobernador in Intramuros, Manila. (Philstar.com/AJ Bolando, file)

The substitution rule is a necessary legal remedy for political parties with candidates who need to drop out of the electoral race, according to the Commission on Elections.

Poll spokesperson James Jimenez explained the importance of this rule, which is recently placed under scrutiny, in a briefing on Wednesday.

“This remedy is available because it is a necessary remedy. You want to make sure that the political party is not unduly disadvantaged by the sudden withdrawal of a candidate,” Jimenez said during the briefing.

“The law protects the rights of the political party by giving it the right of substitution,” he added.

Jimenez also made the same explanation on Twitter on November 9.

His tweet was a response to an online user who asked him: “Sir, what’s the original intent why substitution was added in the rules?”

Jimenez replied and pointed out the substitution option is a remedy for “injured” political parties.

“When a candidate runs under a political party, that political party has as much at stake in the elections, as the individual candidate. If the candidate suddenly drops out of the race, then the pol party is ‘injured.’ A remedy is needed to prevent the injury-so, substitution,” he said.

When asked if it can be abused, Jimenez disagreed.

He, however, pointed out that it’s about time for lawmakers to add some regulations to it.

“It is clear that perhaps it’s time to maybe add some regulations to this, right? Maybe there is room for some legislative action to make sure that this cannot be used on a whim,” he said.

Some lawmakers previously filed resolutions to prohibit substitution of candidates following speculations of some placeholder personalities who filed their candidates last October.

Filipinos were also on the lookout for a possible repeat of the case in 2015.

RELATED: ‘Substitution’ speculation floats as Bato dela Rosa files COC for president 

During the filing for that year, now-DILG Undersecretary Martin Diño filed COC for president to become the standard bearer of ruling PDP-Laban.

However, he later withdrew his presidential bid and the party subsequently fielded President Rodrigo Duterte.

What the law says about substitution of candidates

In section 77 of the Omnibus Election Code, an accredited or registered political party can field another candidate after the COC filing period if:

  • The official candidate dies
  • The official candidate gets disqualified by Comelec
  • The official candidate voluntarily withdraws or drops out from the race

The replacement, however, should belong to and be nominated by the same accredited political party or coalition of the original aspirant.

“Only a person belonging to, and certified by, the same political party may file a certificate of candidacy to replace the candidate who died, withdrew or was disqualified,” the provision read.

“The substitute candidate nominated by the political party concerned may file his certificate of candidacy for the office affected in accordance with the preceding sections not later than mid-day of the day of the election,” it added. 

For the coming polls, the deadline for the filing of substitutions is set on November 15, Monday.

In the same briefing, Jimenez also noted that there is no registered coalition for this election.

“For your reference, there are no registered coalitions for this election,” he said.