Comelec Chairman Proposes Ban on Substitute Candidates

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Proposed Ban on Candidate Substitution in Iloilo City

The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Chairman George Erwin Garcia has announced his intention to push for a ban on candidate substitutions after the submission of the Certificate of Candidacy (COC) for the 2025 midterm elections in Iloilo City. Speaking at a press conference in Guimaras, Garcia stated that while withdrawals will still be allowed before October 8, the substitution of candidates will be prohibited after this date.

The proposal to ban candidate substitutions will be presented to the en banc, and Garcia expressed his determination to pursue it. He emphasized that many citizens believe that allowing substitutions is excessive and that they should no longer be allowed.

Candidate Substitution Rules in the Philippines

Under current COMELEC rules, political parties and coalitions have the option to substitute their nominated candidate in the event of their death, withdrawal, or disqualification by the COMELEC after the filing of the COC. Substitutions due to death or disqualification can be made until midday on election day, provided that the substitute candidate shares the same surname as the original candidate. However, the deadline for substitutions due to withdrawal is determined by the COMELEC.

It is important to note that the right to substitution does not extend to independent candidates, as they are not affiliated with any political party.

Rationale for the Proposed Ban

Garcia pointed out that the COMELEC rules do not explicitly state whether withdrawals are allowed or prohibited after the filing of the COC. This ambiguity provides the COMELEC with the discretion to disallow withdrawals as a basis for substitution after the filing of candidacy. Garcia believes that banning candidate substitutions after the COC filing would address concerns about the misuse of the mechanism by political parties, who sometimes field placeholder candidates, causing confusion among voters.

Impact on Voter Registration

Meanwhile, Garcia reported that the COMELEC has seen a significant increase in voter registrants for the upcoming midterm elections. Since the registration period began on February 12, approximately 2.7 million additional voters have registered. The registration period will continue until September 30, 2024.

The COMELEC aims to have at least 3 million Filipinos register as voters nationwide during this period. To achieve this goal, the poll body is organizing education and registration fairs to inform voters about their right to suffrage and encourage youth participation.

By implementing these initiatives, the COMELEC hopes to ensure a fair and transparent electoral process in Iloilo City and across the Philippines.

Source: The Manila Times

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