The poll body, said commissioner Rowena Guanzon, has authorized its legal department to file petition to declare any candidate “nuisance,” without waiting for a complainant.
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Comelec starts trimming down senatorial list
Evelyn Macairan, Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) - October 20, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has started weeding out so-called nuisance candidates from the list of senatorial aspirants for the May 2019 midterm polls.

The poll body, said commissioner Rowena Guanzon, has authorized its legal department to file petition to declare any candidate “nuisance,” without waiting for a complainant.

“We have authorized the Law Department to motu proprio file petitions to declare nuisance candidates. Just start the process – they are filing motu proprio petitions,” she said in an interview.

Guanzon said they hope to come up with the official list of candidates for senators ahead of the Dec. 15 deadline so they could start printing the official ballots early.

The Omnibus Election Code grants the Comelec the power to cancel the COC of a candidate it deems not qualified to run for public office.

In the 2016 polls, a total of 172 COCs for senators were filed but only 50 were allowed by the Comelec to actually join the race.

Guanzon had earlier emphasized that they don’t determine a candidate’s legitimacy based on his or her financial capability.

She stressed that what the Comelec is worried about is having a candidate whose real intention in running is to mock the electoral system or sow confusion.

Meanwhile, an official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) is calling on voters to shun candidates belonging to political dynasties.

CBCP Episcopal Commission on the Laity (ECL) chairman Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo issued the appeal in the wake of President Duterte’s claim that political dynasties flourish because the people clamor for them.

Pabillo said voters have seven months to discern who among the candidates deserve to be elected as servants of the people.

“Do not vote for those who belong to political dynasties. Political dynasties thrive because we vote for them,” he said.

“Starting today let us take time to know candidates. Certain criteria can be used to shift the good from the worthless or the trapos (traditional politicians)... As voters, let us show the politicians that we are better than them. We have better sense than them, we are more discerning. Let us show them that we know how to choose,” Pabillo said.

Try new faces

He said voters should check the background of lesser-known candidates as “they may well give fresh breath to politics in our country.”

“Every election gives us hope that there can be a better future. This will come about if we become better voters. Let us show to our trapos that as voters we are better than what they think we are,” he said.

On Thursday, President Duterte said that his family was “forced” to serve in Davao. His father Vicente served as governor of the then-unified province of Davao, while he served Davao City – as mayor and representative for one term – for two decades.

Daughter Sara Duterte-Carpio is running for re-election as mayor. Son Paolo is running for congressman and another son Sebastian filed his COC for vice mayor of Davao. 

Pabillo also advised the public not to be easily swayed by campaign promises. “It is not what they say they will do that show their worth, but what they had done. Let us see their track record,” he said. “What have they accomplished so far, both in their personal lives and in their public service?”

The prelate said voters should also look into the personal lives of the candidates so they could get a glimpse of what those candidates are capable of doing in the future.

“If a person is not faithful to his commitment to his wife, will he be faithful to his office? If a person cannot take good care of his family, can he take care of town, province or district? If a person is a gambler, he will gamble his office! If a person is dirty is his speech and his views, he will be dirty as a public official,” he added.

He also said voters may consider crossing political party lines in selecting their candidates since even a good group can have rotten eggs, and a despised party might be keeping a few jewels. Voters should also avoid judging candidates based on their “winnability.”

“Do not join the bandwagon. You are not wasting your vote by voting for one you believe in. By voting for a bad person because he is winnable, you are being an accomplice in destroying our country,” Pabillo added.

He said he was dismayed at seeing traditional politicians during the filing of COCs.

“I cannot believe it! How thick faced our politicians can be! Even those with very strong criminal cases filed against them run. Even those who are too old to speak straight run! Even those who are discredited for being too subservient as to throw their principles away run!” the CBCP official added.

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