Editorial: Nuisance candidates-A A +A
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
A MAN who claims his family owns the Philippine archipelago, another man who says his wife is Kris Aquino, and a third man who wants to become congressman because his wife has been nagging him to get a job: they are among the more colorful personalities who filed their certificates of candidacy (COC) last Monday.
After the last COC is filed on Friday this week, it will be up to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to weed out the nuisance candidates from those more serious about winning public office.
In countries with primaries and run-off elections, that task falls upon party members and voters. Yet while these processes keep out the less viable candidates, they also arguably keep out original ideas or qualified but underfunded candidates. It would take extraordinary charisma and organizational skills, like those exhibited when Barack Obama first sought the United States presidency in 2008, to make it past the primaries and into the general elections.
How does the Comelec decide, on our behalf, who are the nuisance candidates?
The more obvious exclusions would be those who are fielded to confuse voters, such as when their names are similar to that of another candidate. Even then, the Comelec does not always catch these nuisance candidates in time.
In the 2007 elections, the Comelec ruled that Edilito C. Martinez was a nuisance candidate who was fielded probably to divert some of the votes that would otherwise have gone to congressional candidate Celestino A. Martinez III of Cebu Province’s fourth district. The Comelec managed to issue its ruling only a month after the May elections. The fight that ensued over stray ballots took so long that although the Supreme Court eventually declared Celestino III as the rightful winner, he never managed to serve his term.
Despite missteps like these, the Comelec makes no apologies for excluding candidates who, in its view, have failed to prove a bona fide intention to run for office or “some preliminary showing of a significant modicum of support.”
In order to convince the Comelec that one isn’t merely being a nuisance, a candidate would have to present a platform of government as well as some proof that one has or can raise, in time, the means to run a serious campaign.
Yet nuisance candidates, apart from providing comic relief, also raise an uncomfortable question: How do you change the political game, if you expect everyone to keep playing by the same rules?
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 03, 2012.