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EDITORIAL - Pressed for time

(The Philippine Star) - January 8, 2016 - 9:00am

Within just a few weeks, the Commission on Elections will begin printing the ballots for the general elections in May. By that time, those included in the ballot – all the candidates and groups accredited under the party list – must face no legal challenges to their election bids.

This is important especially for the presidential race, where a clear mandate is crucial for national stability. That time is of the essence in resolving the questions cannot be emphasized enough. We enter the second week of January with disqualification cases still hanging over the candidacies of Sen. Grace Poe and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

Poe is facing disqualification not only as a presidential candidate but also as a senator. The cases at least have been elevated to the Supreme Court, which last month temporarily restrained the Comelec from disqualifying her from the presidential race.

Duterte’s cases are still with the Comelec. The poll body has promised to act swiftly on the four petitions seeking to disqualify him and nullify his substitution as a presidential candidate for someone who filed a certificate of candidacy for Pasay City mayor. The Comelec accepted Duterte’s COC for president but must issue a separate ruling on the petitions. Regardless of the final Comelec ruling, it is also likely to go to the SC.

There are indications that the Comelec, pressed for time, would include the names of the candidates in the ballot even without a final, binding ruling from the SC. If the names of the two candidates are included in the ballot and they are eventually disqualified with finality, it could create confusion among voters. It could invite protest votes leading to invalidation, which could in turn incite various forms of protest actions.

The nation cannot afford that kind of civil unrest. Whoever wins in May must have an unequivocal mandate. Uncertainty cannot herald the start of a new administration. Both the SC and the Comelec must resolve the disqualification cases with dispatch.

ACIRC BALLOT CANDIDATES CASES COMELEC DISQUALIFICATION DUTERTE GRACE POE AND DAVAO CITY MAYOR RODRIGO DUTERTE PASAY CITY PRESIDENTIAL SUPREME COURT
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