A COUPLE of days ago a former PPCRV Colleague of mine, Atty. Howard M. Calleja posted a social media statement which read “SUBSTITUTION PROSTITUTION”, this underscores how the process of Candidate “Substitution” in the 2022 Polls will likely be utilize and legally exploited to serve the political designs of a political party trying to vie for extra time or to misdirect political opponents in next year’s polls.
After asking Atty. Howard on why he posted such a statement he said that, “as a grand finale to the Filing of the Certificate of Candidacy for the 2022 Polls, the clowns in our political circus have left no stone unturned. In an attempt to legally maneuver a possible substitution scenario, Sen. Bato Dela Rosa has filed his CoC for President. As such, this ploy to make a travesty of our electoral process has marred the start of the 2022 National and Local Elections with deception and lies”.
The prevailing rule for substitution can be found in Section 77 of the Omnibus Election Code, which was enacted in 1985. Under it, substitution can be made even until mid-day of the day of the election on three grounds: death, disqualification, and withdrawal. These three conditions for substitution in the 1985 Omnibus Election Code were a restatement of the same grounds in Section 34 of the Election Code of 1971. Before that, in the Revised Election Code of 1947, only two grounds were allowed for substitution: death and disqualification. Under COMELEC’s new resolution, “switching” or “substitution” is no longer prohibited thus the following scenarios are possible:
Single Switch Scenario: From October 9 to November 15, Candidate A withdraws CoC for position X. From October 9 to November 15, Candidate B withdraws CoC for position Y. Candidate A files CoC for position Y from October 9 to November 15 (note: The Certificate of Nomination and Acceptance must come from the same Political Party Z). Candidate B does not substitute for anyone.
Double Switch Scenario: From October 9 to November 15, Candidate A withdraws CoC for position X. From October 9 to November 15, Candidate B withdraws CoC for position Y. Candidate A files CoC for position Y from October 9 to November 15. Candidate B files CoC for position X from October 9 to November 15 (note: The Certificate of Nomination and Acceptance must come from the same Political Party Z).
Simple Switch Scenario: From October 9 to November 15, Candidate B withdraws CoC for position Y. Candidate C Joins Political Party and obtains Certificate of Nomination and Acceptance. Candidate C files CoC for position Y from October 9 to November 15.
In so doing we might see the following possibilities: (1) Sen. Bato Dela Rosa is replaced by Mayor Sarah Duterte to run to president; (2) Sen. Bato Dela Rosa and Sen. Bong Go switches position for candidacy; (3) Sen. Bato Dela Rosa withdraws then Sen. Go applies for President while Pres. Rodrigo Duterte files for VP; and (4) Mayor Sara withdraws as mayor while Sen.BatoDela Rosa withdraws as president. Mayor Sara joins PDP-Laban (Cusi faction) to replace Sen. Bato. Pres. Duterte then joins “Hugpong ng Pagbabago” and files CoC as mayor of Davao replacing Mayor Sara. Another possibility with no “switching” involved would be a BBM-GO tandem with a simple Sen. Bato withdrawal with BBM being adopted by the PDP-Laban (Cusifaction).
“Saddening as it may be, in all these scenarios and possibilities we see lies, deceit and subterfuge which assumes that voters are naïve and easily fooled by such political maneuvers. Fool me once, shame on thee; fool me twice, shame on me. After being tricked once, one should learn from one’s mistakes and avoid being tricked in the same way again. These dubious schemes which seeks to circumvent our legal and electoral process just to retain their lust for power and greed are only making a mockery of us all and should be stopped here and now. The treachery is over, it’s time to show the wolf in the sheep’s clothing” (Atty. Howard M. Calleja).
As such, this situation outlines the clash between “the letter of the law” versus “the spirit of the law”. When one obeys the letter of the law but not the spirit, one is obeying the literal interpretation of the words (the “letter”) of the law, but not necessarily the intent of those who wrote the law. Conversely, when one obeys the spirit of the law but not the letter, one is doing what the authors of the law intended, though not necessarily adhering to the literal wording. Candidate substitution is legitimate course of action to withdraw from an election, for matters relating to health, family, finances, career, and even personal reputation but it does not give political parties abuse such provision of our law; and I hope such legal reform can be instituted in the future so as to avoid the possibility of misuse.
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