Philippine politics on the fast drive
COMMONSENSE - Marichu A. Villanueva (The Philippine Star) - October 12, 2018 - 12:00am

Do you know why there are so many people who, despite obvious lack of “bona fide” intention to serve in elective office, have the gall to submit themselves as candidates? It is for the simple reason that it’s so easy to file their candidacies and impose upon us Filipinos the burden to entertain their fantasies in their otherwise humdrum existence on earth.

On the eve of the filing of certificates of candidacy (CoCs), Commission on Elections (Comelec) spokesman James Jimenez announced the readiness of the poll body to accommodate all those intending to run for public office in the May 13, 2019 mid-term elections.

Speaking before our weekly Kapihan sa Manila Bay breakfast forum last Wednesday at the Cafe Adriatico in Manila, Jimenez declared that the Comelec will accept all CoCs that would be filed by any candidates.

For as long as there are required attachments such as photo, documentary stamp and duly notarized CoCs, the Comelec would process them. The Comelec will screen all the submitted CoCs and go through the disqualification process to eliminate so-called “nuisance” candidates and those who fail to meet basic requirements of the election laws. 

Speaking on behalf of the Comelec, Jimenez invoked the provisions of our country’s 1987 Constitution which states every Filipino, 35 years of age, natural born citizen in our country, able to read and write and of sound mental health can run for public office.

For as long as he or she is not a certified “nut” case, it is every Filipino’s political right to run for public office.

Since the Comelec does not impose any filing fee, we taxpayers have to bear and grin with these clowns who are obviously plagued with attention-deficit syndrome who file their CoCs just for the sake of getting media mileage.

As to questions raised whether politicians and other individuals implicated in the “narco lists” of President Rodrigo Duterte and those named in the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) would be disbarred from filing their CoCs, Jimenez clarified their inclusion in the illegal drugs list cannot be a ground to disqualify a candidate. 

Jimenez was reacting to the recent call of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) for the poll body not to allow 93 local officials from running in the upcoming polls because of their involvement in illegal drugs.

The DILG has also urged the Comelec to disqualify at least 250 mayors who are facing investigations due to corruption and abuse of authority.

As far as the Comelec is concerned, Jimenez noted individuals included in the so-called “narco lists” can still run in the May 13, 2019 midterm polls unless he or she was already convicted on final judgment by the courts in any cases, including illegal drugs crime.

Jimenez estimated there would be around 61 million Filipinos who are expected to cast their votes in next year’s national and local elections. This figure does not include some 1.9 million registered overseas Filipino voters.

 Jimenez noted the biggest segment of the voters belongs to the youth sector aged 18 to 35 years old.  They account for more than one third of the votes.  The elderly, or those above 55 years old, also comprise a “large segment” of voters, accounting for “a little less than one-third” of the total number. The “smallest demographics” of voters are those in the middle age.

Also guesting in our Kapihan sa Manila Bay, veteran election lawyer Romulo Macalintal, who is running as “independent” candidate for senator, concurred with Jimenez. The 71-year-old election lawyer vows to be the voice of senior citizens at the halls of Congress where he also intends to initiate amendments to the Omnibus Election Code like raising the existing P3 per voter expenditure allowed by Comelec during the campaign to reflect the prevailing costs of election campaign.

At P3 per voter, Macalintal calculated, his senatorial bid would cost as much as P180 million for the estimated 61 million Comelec-registered voters all over the country. With a personal amount of P5 million to support his candidacy, Macalintal counts upon the various political parties that would adopt him like the Liberal Party (LP) to bankroll his nationwide campaign. Incidentally, Macalintal is the lead counsel of Vice President Leni Robredo, who is the highest elected official of LP, in the on-going legal battle involving the electoral protest filed against her before the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET). 

Like Macalintal, resigned Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) assistant secretary Mocha Uson announced during our Kapihan sa Manila Bay forum she will run as “independent” in next year’s midterm polls but refused to say for which position. Uson admitted the equally feisty daughter of President Duterte, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte has promised to back her candidacy. While she is running too as “independent” candidate, Uson said Mayor Sara promised she will be adopted by the Hugpong sa Pagbabago after Comelec approved its application as a regional political party.

Currently, Uson claims to have some 5.7 million followers in her social media accounts. This gives her confidence the netizens community could bring her to victory in the same way they did to the former Davao City Mayor during the May 2016 presidential election campaign. Being a former overseas Filipino worker (OFW) herself, Uson intends to champion the rights and welfare of migrant workers.

There are only 12 slots in the Senate race and about 233 or so regular congressional districts. President Duterte created six new ones that are up for grabs in next year’s elections. This is not to mention the current 58 party-list representatives that were nationally voted into office who would comprise the incoming 18th Congress.

Based on the last 2016 election records, there would be a total of 18,095 local government elective posts. With at least two candidates per post, this could mean 144,000 CoCs. But politics in a fast drive could push this number up than what is projected come election time.

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