House members thumb down ‘candidate bond’ proposal

HOUSE lawmakers on Wednesday junked the proposal of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) that will require candidates to post a bond before they will be allowed to run for public office.

During the hearing of House committee on suffrage and electoral reform, Abakada party-list Representative Jonathan dela Cruz reminded Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez that the agency's proposal purportedly to discourage nuisance candidates might deprive any qualified voter of his constitutional right to be voted.

"The proposal is an abridgement of the right to vote and be voted upon and discriminatory. It also gives the Comelec the power which is not germane to its mandate. As far as I remember, there are only three qualifications to run for office, these are Filipino citizenship, able to read and write and physically able," dela Cruz said.

Cavite Representative Elpidio Barzaga Jr. said that he does not see the proposal "to deter nuisance candidates from running to public office will be an effective remedy."

"Congress and/or the Comelec cannot require excessive bonds because it might deprive the voter of his constitutional right to be voted to public office," Barzaga said.

Meanwhile 1-ABAP party-list Representative Silvestre Bello III, who is a former Justice Secretary during the Ramos Administration, said the Comelec should cease from pushing a supposed unconstitutional proposal.

"It violates the provisions of the Constitution by adding qualification for candidacy," Bello said in same hearing.

Akbayan party-list Representative Walden Bello branded the proposal as "anti-poor" and "not Democratic."

"I think that would not be democratic. Every citizen should be able to run if she or he meets the minimum qualifications for an office. A bond would also discriminate against the poor," Bello said.

The Comelec has yet to propose a particular amount for the bond but Jimenez said they would leave it up to the lawmakers to fix the amount but Jimenez clarified that the proposal was not intended to allow only rich individuals to run for public office. (Sunnex)

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