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Comelec wants fine, jail time for nuisance bets

Mayen Jaymalin, Neil Jayson Servallos - The Philippine Star
Comelec wants fine, jail time for nuisance bets
Stressing how the Comelec has grown tired of people making a “mockery” of the elections, Comelec spokesman Rex Laudiangco over the weekend said the poll body is seeking to criminalize nuisance candidacies under Chairman George Garcia’s term.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — Following the resolution of the local election debacle in Negros Oriental perpetrated by a nuisance candidate, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) is drumming up support for measures to criminalize nuisance candidacies and impose fines or jail time as penalty.

Stressing how the Comelec has grown tired of people making a “mockery” of the elections, Comelec spokesman Rex Laudiangco over the weekend said the poll body is seeking to criminalize nuisance candidacies under Chairman George Garcia’s term.

“Through the administration of Chairman George Garcia, we will be pushing to have things like these criminalized because it’s becoming a trend. Time and time again, every election, there are those who run almost alike names, sounding like the names of legitimate candidates,” Laudiangco said in Filipino in an interview aired over radio station dzBB, stressing that nuisance candidates’ only reason to run is “to make the election a mockery, to confuse the people.”

“So, the Comelec will push to criminalize it so that we are not only talking about the vote, but they will be punished with jail time and fines,” he added.

The election victory of incumbent Negros Oriental Gov. Henry Teves was expected to be nullified when the local government starts a new month after the Comelec voted to annul his proclamation and proclaim former governor Roel Degamo as the true winner of the May 9 elections.

In a writ of execution promulgated last Tuesday, Garcia said the poll body, in an en banc session, voted 3-2 to deny the motion for reconsideration filed by Degamo’s similar-sounding contender, Grego “Ruel” Degamo, to overturn the Comelec’s decision to declare the latter a nuisance candidate.

The decision then allocated the more than 49,000 votes that the nuisance candidate earned to the former governor who would now have a more than 29,000-vote lead over Teves, who secured 296,897 votes.

“The special provincial board of canvassers of the province of Negros Oriental is directed to … annul the proclamation of Henry Teves (and) credit the votes obtained by Grego (‘Ruel’) Degamo in favor of Roel Degamo, (proclaiming) the candidate who obtained the highest number of votes,” Garcia wrote.

The board of canvassers was also ordered to convene this morning at the Comelec session hall at the Palacio del Gobernador Building in Intramuros, Manila to make the decision official.

Under the Comelec Rules of Procedure, any candidate identified to have the intention 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 who by other acts or circumstances” can be declared nuisance and face cancellation of their Certificate of Candidacy.

Garcia previously announced that the poll body is pushing for the redefinition of nuisance candidacy as well as the criminalization of such acts.

He said that upon the determination of bad faith in the filing of candidacy, a nuisance candidate must be fined, if not put behind bars.

COMELEC

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