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The right to file: Even ‘Lucifer’ running for president

Mayen Jaymalin, Sheila Crisostomo - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - As more aspiring politicians filed their certificates of candidacy yesterday, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) made clear it cannot deny anyone the right to file, as doing so would be “contrary to the idea of democracy.”

Comelec spokesman James Jimenez made the clarification as “Lucifer” joined the list of more than 30 people so far wishing to take a crack at the presidency.

“Accepting the COC does not mean that a person can already run in the elections. The COC will be evaluated and the Comelec will conduct hearing if necessary before making a decision if an aspirant can be included or delisted from the ballot,” Jimenez explained.

Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista said unpopular or unknown candidates should not be called nuisance unless determined as such by the poll body.

“They are not nuisance until they become (one),” Bautista told reporters, stressing that it is a “ministerial responsibility” of the Comelec to accept COCs filed by candidates.

On the first day of COC filing last Monday, the only known personalities who showed up at the Comelec main office at the Palacio del Gobernador in Intramuros were Vice-President Jejomar Binay, former Technical Education and Skills Development Authority head Augusto Syjuco, former Presidential Commission on Good Government chairman Camilo Sabio and Rizalito David of the Ang Kapatiran party.

“As I’ve said, it is the right of every citizen to aspire for higher office. But we need to balance our democracy with having a clean election,” he said. 

“The Omnibus Election Code provides that our election should not be made a mockery,” he pointed out.

Bautista said one of the requirements for candidates seeking national positions is to prove their “ability to mount a national campaign.” 

Under the law, Jimenez said a candidate can be considered nuisance if he is making a mockery of the elections, sowing confusion or shows no bonafide intention to run for office.

“We cannot see immediately the capability of an individual based on a COC, so we don’t immediately shoot down those COCs because that is contrary to the idea of democracy,” he pointed out.

Meanwhile, one COC filer, 51-year-old “missionary” from Itogon, Benguet Romeo John Ygona, said it was his “master” who instructed him to file his COC for president.

He said he wanted to be listed in the ballot as “Lucifer” if the Comelec allows him to run for president.

Aside from Ygona, another tandem from “heaven” – Afredo Tindugan and Angelito Baluga – also showed up at the Comelec to file their COCs for president and vice president, respectively. They call their political party Divine Mercy government.

Another presidential wannabe Bertrand Joseph Withstanley was the third candidate to file COC for president yesterday.

If elected, Withstanley said he would block the proposed creation of a Bangsamoro government.

A total of 15 presidential aspirants filed their COCs yesterday. Last Monday, 22 presidential hopefuls submitted their COCs.

ACIRC AFREDO TINDUGAN AND ANGELITO BALUGA AS I AUGUSTO SYJUCO BAUTISTA BENGUET ROMEO JOHN YGONA BERTRAND JOSEPH WITHSTANLEY CAMILO SABIO AND RIZALITO DAVID OF THE ANG KAPATIRAN COC COMELEC COMELEC CHAIRMAN ANDRES BAUTISTA
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