Solon seeks tougher law vs nuisance candidates

With only five months away before the filing of the Certificates of Candidacy (CoC) for those seeking an elective position in the 2022 national elections, Samar Congressman and House Transportation Chair Edgar Mary Sarmiento has asked Congress to expedite the approval of his bill which seeks to slap a P100,000  fine upon  nuisance candidates and those who conspire with them for the malicious filing of  CoCs during elections.

Sarmiento filed House Bill 91 two years ago hoping that Congress could amend the Omnibus Election Code in time for the 2022 presidential elections. Sarmiento has also filed House Bill 92 which seeks to disqualify persons convicted of corruption from holding public office, even while an appeal is  still pending.

Sarmiento said that the use of nuisance candidates has become a practice by some unscrupulous politicians as part of their ploy to undermine their political rivals. One prevalent modus was to field candidates with full names or surnames that are identical to that of their rivals.

Nuisance candidates are defined under the Omnibus election Code as persons who files a CoC “ to put the election process in mockery or disrepute or to cause confusion among the voters by the similarity of the names of the registered candidates or by other circumstances or acts which clearly demonstrate that the candidate has no bona fide intention to run for the office.”

Sarmiento said that while Article 69 of the Omnibus Election Code or the Batas Pambansa 881 gives the Commission on Election (Comelec) the authority to cancel or refuse the CoC of one who is deemed a nuisance candidate,  there is nothing in the law which stops them from repeatedly filing or causing the filing of their CoC.

And while nuisance candidates in the national elections are largely purged by the Comelec, there are still some who are obviously electoral nuisance who have succeeded in filing their CoCs.

“There is a reasonable need to employ more measure to deter the practice of indiscriminately filing a certificate of candidacy just to mock the election or to attempt to shave off the votes of certain candidates,” Sarmiento said. 

“As a deterrent to such practice, a penalty heavier than mere refusal of due course or cancellation of a CoC must be imposed upon those who maliciously file or cause the filing of the same,” he added.

Sarmiento said that Article 69 of BP 881 must be amended to include a provision which states: “The Commission, upon notice and hearing, may also impose the penalty of a fine not less than One Hundred Thousand Pesos on the person who filed such certificate upon proof of malice or gross bad faith.”

“Any person named in the verified petition and found to have been in conspiracy with or have induced the person who filed such certificate shall also be made to pay the fine of not less than One Hundred Thousand Pesos,” the proposed amendment also stated. ###