Seares: Margot or Miguel could sub for Tomas up to election day

News Sense

THIS scenario must have played in the mind of someone in the opposition camp in Cebu City:

Mayor Tomas Osmeña files his certificate of candidacy (COC) on a working day from Oct. 11 to 17. On May 13, 2019, election day, on or before noon, his wife Margot or their son Miguel files a COC replacing Tomas as candidate for mayor.

That can be lawfully done. Comelec Resolution #10420 approved last Friday (Sept. 28) relaxes the rule on substitution of candidates for the 2019 election.


Instead of limiting replacement to candidates who die or get disqualified, the rule now includes aspirants who withdraw for any reason. With only these requirements: (1) the swap is between candidates with the same surnames and (2) the party of the person replaced recommends it.

But why the heck should Tomas who says he’s in excellent health and is not disqualified by final judgment ever would make such a move? He most likely would not.

It’s just a hypothetical mind game for now. But the new rule would be useful to a candidate who’s winnable and might want to foist on voters a candidate who is not. And it would be really perverse if the substitute is hopelessly unelectable.

Who benefits

The old rule was aimed to benefit a candidate who dies or gets disqualified shortly before election day. Beneficial to his family and his party. In 1968, Magnolia Antonino became an instant substitute for her husband, reelectionist senator Gaudencio Antonino, who died in a plane crash. She won even though the nation voted for her husband, not Magnolia.

Under the relaxed rule, substitution may be made for any reason and all the way up to election day. The unfairness, if not deceit, would be to send to public office someone who just happens to bear the same surname of the original candidate, a person they didn’t pick.

For any reason

There’s also another anomaly. The cause is not fortuitous or beyond his control (not death or disqualification). It could be any reason: pure whim or deliberate falsehood.

And it vests in the politician the right to pass on to another -- usually wife, child, or sibling who bears his surname -- the yet unearned right to public office. Right to public office is supposed to be personal and non-transferable. While theoretically the substitute undergoes an election, the votes are meant for the original candidate.

The Osmeñas are just an example here. Comelec’s new rule applies to all politicians similarly situated. The aberration it causes will result as well when voters vote for X but puts Y into office instead.


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