After Supreme Court loss, COMELEC asks Congress to define nuisance bets

·2 min read
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte raises the hand of Philippine Senator Christopher
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte raises the hand of Philippine Senator Christopher "Bong" Go after filing his certificate of candidacy for president for the 2022 national election, at the Commission on Elections (COMELEC), in Manila, Philippines, November 13, 2021. REUTERS/Lisa Marie David

The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) on Sunday (September 11) asked lawmakers to pass a law that would clarify what a nuisance candidate is.

“Let us redefine nuisance candidacy based on existing Supreme Court decisions and our modern times,” COMELEC chair and former Marcos lawyer George Garcia said. “We are ready to draft a proposed measure on that matter and send it to Congress.”

This comes after the Supreme Court granted the petition of Norman Marquez, a senatorial aspirant in the 2022 national elections, who the election agency declared as a nuisance candidate for being “virtually unknown to the entire country”, and for not being involved in a political party.

“Declaring one a nuisance candidate simply because he or she is not known to the entire country reduces the electoral process – a sacred instrument of democracy – to a mere popularity contest,” the high court said. “The matter of the candidate being known (or unknown) should not be taken against the candidate but is best left to the electorate.”

SC added, “nuisance candidates, as an evil to be remedied, do not justify the adoption of measures which would consequently bar seemingly unpopular candidates from running for office.”

This was not the first time COMELEC was sued by Marquez. In 2019, SC ruled in favor of the latter, due to the inclusion of a financial capacity requirement in a candidate’s bona fide intention to run. The high court opted to decide on the case to avoid it reoccurring in the future.

SC urged the election agency to “adopt a practicable plan or timeline” to ensure that inclusion or exclusion of candidates will occur as early as possible, so that SC will have enough time to resolve related cases before election day.

Mark Ernest Famatigan is a news writer who focuses on Philippine politics. He is an advocate for press freedom and regularly follows developments in the Philippine economy. The views expressed are his own.

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