Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Carvajal: Nuisance candidate

Break Point

ON PAPER, the Omnibus Election Code gives the Commission on Elections (Comelec) the power to judge an applicant a nuisance candidate for any of the reasons listed in the Code. On the ground, however, Comelec rejects the certificate of candidacy of someone who cannot prove he/she has the wherewithal to mount a serious (translate: expensive) election campaign.

House Bill 9557 does not make any sense. How can it slap a heavy fine on a candidate who has been declared a nuisance for not having the money to wage an election campaign? And doesn’t the constitution only require that a person running for the presidency be nothing more than a natural-born Filipino citizen, a registered voter, can read and write, and at least 40 years old at the time of the general election?

We are a country of 110 million people. No way we can be anything but a representative democracy. This means nobody should run for high office representing his/her own personal interests and aspirations. The candidate must belong to a political party that represents the interests and aspirations of a social sector or sectors.

On a more fundamental level, this means that, in the interest of fairness, government should give all sectors (including and especially the marginalized worker-farmer sector) equal opportunity to organize their respective political parties.

Governments in politically mature democratic countries promote the formation of political parties by accrediting them as public institutions after complying with basic requirements like a political philosophy and program, member qualification, training, and minimum number, code of discipline etc. Once accredited, they are provided with equal budget allocations for their operating expenses that include training, convention and campaign expenses.

Left to their own devices and by the very fact they are financially challenged, there is no other way the basic sectors (workers and farmers) can form a political party and get a chance of having a voice in government.

The political party or parties of the upper class will still have the advantage of being able to raise additional funds from their wealthy members. But at least, in this system of accrediting political parties as public institutions, society’s basic sectors get seed money to form their own party and avoid being unconstitutionally hustled out as a nuisance candidate

The fact, therefore, that we have nuisance candidates is unassailable proof that this country is not a representative but an elitist democracy. What else can it be when only the elite can run for office and participate in governance while the poor, if they try to run, are unconstitutionally and unceremoniously declared nuisance candidates?


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