Are you on the list? Look under HeWhoMustNotBeNamed.

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.

You see, the law COMELEC Resolution 7799 says:

SEC. 15. Nuisance Candidates. β€” 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.

9 Responses

  1. Would a candidate be disqualified if he or she entered false information on the application for candidacy? Technically, this would not make him a nuisance. It’ll make him a liar.

  2. but aren’t liars voted into public office a real nuisance, not to say a major pain in the a**?

  3. HeyπŸ˜€

    I just noticed that the Q.C. Circle has a lot of posters/banners of different candidates. hindi po ata kasama yun sa “Common Poster Areas.” It’s starting to look like a circus..

  4. Hi James,

    CyberPress, the organization of IT journalists in the Phillippines which I’m currently heading, will be holding its quarterly forum this April 16 at the Manila Peninsula.

    The theme of the forum will be “Computerization Program in the Public Sector: An Update”.

    It is this occasion that I’m sending this invite for Comelec to serve as one of the panelist in the forum.

    I hope you can come to give the public an update on how the Comelec is using technology or the Internet for the coming elections.

    Kindly send your confirmation to Melvin G. Calimag’s email at melvsgc@yahoo.com or cell number at 09209609984.

    Thank you.

  5. Hi Melvin,

    I just spoke with Erwin Oliva about this, and yes, I would love to join that panel. Thanks for the invite.

  6. Hi Renzi,

    Thanks for the report. As far as I know, the Quezon Memorial Circle fence is a common poster area.πŸ™‚

  7. I checked the Omnibus Election Code and ‘nuisance candidates’ are covered under Section 69 and not section 15. When you said ‘the law,’ I assumed you meant the Omnibus Election Code.

    It also said under Section 74 “…and that the facts stated in the certificate of candidacy are true to the best of his knowledge.” However, I didnt see anything on the penalties for entering false information on a certificate of candidacy; it is not covered under Section 68(Disqualifications).

    Does that mean that a person entering false information on the COC is not automatically disqualified by the COMELEC? How will said person be disqualified?

  8. Jeg,

    My bad. I meant COMELEC Resolution No. 7799. Fixed it in the post.

    The certificate of candidacy is required to be under oath. Which means, the person filing it has the duty to be telling the truth. If he violates the oath by telling an untruth – i.e., a material misrep – then the certificate of candidacy can be considered not filed, yes? Therefore, it can be denied due course. Or, if already given due course, it can be canceled.

    And yes, a person entering false information on the COC is not automatically disqualified. Remember, the COC is under oath: that means it is entitled to a presumption of regularity. That’s the reason petitions to deny due course or cancel certificates of candidacy are allowed. People who know that a material misrep has been made can challenge the COC. If the misrep is proven, the COC is canceled or denied due course.

  9. Got it. Thanks. Very clear.

    I was a bit confused about the Omnibus Code’s wording in Section 78. (http://www.comelec.gov.ph/laws/oec_art9.html#sec78)
    “Petition to deny due course to or cancel a certificate of candidacy. – A verified petition seeking to deny due course or to cancel a certificate of candidacy may be filed by *the person* exclusively on the ground that any material representation contained therein as required under Section 74 hereof is false.”

    It is not clear what Section 78 means when it says “the person”. From the context kasi, “the person” means the one who filed the COC and not anybody else.

    Thanks again.

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