That’s what they say at exclusive clubs holding exclusive parties: “Are you on the list?” Well, at least in the movies they say that. In real life, it seems like the COMELEC gets the role of the bouncer with the clipboard. And last night, someone said they had gotten a copy of the list on that clipboard.
I suppose there wouldn’t have been as much of a ruckus if the alleged list had contained all of the names people expected, but none of the names people didn’t want to see. The problem was that the alleged list did have at least one name that many of the COMELEC’s outspoken critics didn’t want to see.
Which tells me that when the true final list does come out – anytime this week – and that name is still on there, we’ll be at the center of yet another sh*tstorm, quite possibly bigger than the one that swirled all around the COMELEC today. Which is damned unfortunate because the way the law works, that sh*tstorm is probably inevitable.
the law COMELEC Resolution 7799 says:
SEC. 15. Nuisance Candidates. — The Commission may, motu proprio, or upon verified petition of an interested party, refuse to give due course to or cancel a certificate of candidacy if it is shown that said certificate has been filed to put the election process in mockery or disrepute, or to cause confusion among the voters by the similarity of names of registered candidates, or by other circumstances or acts which clearly demonstrate that the candidate has no bona fide intention to run for the office for which the certificate of candidacy has been filed and thus prevent a faithful determination of the true will of the electorate.
Note the words IF IT IS SHOWN. It doesn’t say IF IT IS OBVIOUS which is what people have been saying about the person whose name sends them into paroxysms of anger. When you’re talking about the Constitutional right of a person to run for elected office, OBVIOUS just doesn’t cut it. The use of the word SHOWN means that a candidate can only be declared a nuisance if it is proven that any of the three conditions for a declaration of nuisance-ness exist. If it cannot be shown, then it must be assumed that the nuisance-ness does not exist. Remember, even those whom everyone agreed ought to be called a nuisance were given a chance to prove everyone wrong.
And while we’re at it, let’s look at the words TO CAUSE CONFUSION. The law doesn’t tell us to declare a candidate a nuisance if his name CAUSES CONFUSION, which again is what his critics have been saying. The difference is that, with TO CAUSE CONFUSION, there is the element of intent – the intention to cause confusion which leads a person to file his candidacy with a name that sounds like someone else’s. With CAUSES CONFUSION (which the law does not say), intent would not be important. All that would matter is that the name actually misleads voters.
So, since the law says TO CAUSE CONFUSION, it follows that if want to SHOW nuisance-ness (as opposed to merely pointing out the OBVIOUS), we have to prove that there was that intention to mislead voters.
Now I realize that there will be people who will dismiss this line of reasoning as gobbledy-gook. But before they do that, I’d suggest that they try to put themselves in the shoes of the person they want to whip back into obscurity. What if you were that person? And what if you really wanted to run for office? And what if you happened to share the name of a famous politician? Would you appreciate people telling the COMELEC that you should be disqualified simply because they don’t trust you? Come to that, would you pull out of the race?
Ultimately, the COMELEC has to hold its ground and insist that due process be followed, whoever might be inconvenienced or benefited. The COMELEC simply cannot take the word of people who trot out ‘damning evidence’ without first validating that offering. If we were to do that with the stakes reversed, the very people who are now clamoring for us to cut the process short would be the very first ones to cry foul. Guaranteed. Which makes their demands for instant gratification almost hypocritical, eh?
In any case, back to He Who Must Not Be Named, the process of showing that his candidacy ought to be junked has begun; there is a pending disqualification case. Does this mean, then, that in the meantime he cannot be considered a candidate? Or that the COMELEC would be guilty of malfeasance if he is considered a candidate?
Absolutely not. However, his being considered a candidate now does not automatically mean that he cannot, at a later time, be disqualified. And by the way, this sort of situation also happened during the Presidential elections, when a candidate was disqualified in the middle of the campaign, AFTER he had spent a not inconsiderable sum of money.
C’est la vie, mon ami.