House solon to file electoral reform bills

June 20, 2022 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 264 views

DEPUTY Speaker Rufus Rodriguez on Monday said he would refile in the next Congress two electoral reform bills, including one that seeks to ban the substitution of any candidate in any local or national election.

Rodriguez said the other bill would restore an old provision in the election law that declared an incumbent elective official automatically resigned upon filing a certificate of candidacy (COC) for another position.

“These twin measures aim to purify our electoral process further. They are intended to put an end to practices by politicians and political parties that put in doubt the integrity of our elections,” Rodriguez said.

The representative of Cagayan de Oro City’s second district said he hopes the incoming 19th Congress would approve the measures in its first or second year of the session.

“I also hope that the incoming national leadership would support the bills for the sake of future elections,” he added.

Rodriguez filed House Bill (HB) Nos. 10380 and 10381 in October last year, but the outgoing Congress failed to pass them.

Under HB 10380, a political party would be prohibited from substituting any candidate unless the latter dies or is disqualified.

Rodriguez said the Omnibus Election Code allows the substitution of a candidate in case of death, disqualification, or withdrawal of another aspirant.

He said while there is nothing wrong with substitution in case of death or disqualification, “substitution because of withdrawal, or what others call voluntary substitution, may pose serious questions and may lead to the manipulation and mockery of the election process.”

“Withdrawals could lead the voting public to believe that the candidate who withdrew, or the political party doing the substitution or the replacement candidate, is not really serious about the candidacy,” Rodriguez said.

He added that prohibiting voluntary substitution would also give the Comelec (Commission on Elections) additional time to screen COC filers, prepare the final list of candidates and print the official ballots and related paraphernalia.

The other proposed law, HB 10381, seeks to level the playing field among candidates.

The Fair Elections Act of 2001 (Republic Act No. 9006) scrapped the provision in the Election Code that deemed an incumbent to be automatically resigned upon filing a COC for another position.

“It is high time to reinstate the repealed provision. This would force aspirants to take running for higher office seriously and to stop manipulating and mocking the electoral process. It would also make more people believe in the integrity of our elections,” Rodriguez said.

He said the old rule if restored, would apply to all incumbent elective officials, whether running for higher or lower office.

“It would prevent incumbents from using their office, personnel, public funds and property, and influence to promote their candidacy. It would also put aspirants, whether bureaucrats who are forced to resign under the present law and incumbent elective officials, on equal footing,” Rodriguez added.