Reopened COC filing may lead to no election, term extension

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  • 2022 Philippine Elections
    2022 Philippine Elections
FILE PHOTO: A Filipino poll worker stretches as takes a break near ballot boxes outside the offices of the Commission on Elections in Manila April 30. The ballot boxes will be used for the May 11 presidential and national elections.  REUTERS
FILE PHOTO: A Filipino poll worker stretches as takes a break near ballot boxes outside the offices of the Commission on Elections in Manila April 30. The ballot boxes will be used for the May 11 presidential and national elections. REUTERS

“To therefore ask COMELEC to condition the printing of ballots on the final resolution of disqualification cases hews dangerously close to a 'no election' scenario,” jailed Senator Leila de Lima said. “Maybe this is what the Cusi Wing wants all along, for elections to be postponed indefinitely until they get their act together.”

De Lima warned the public that the petition filed by Alfonso Cusi-led PDP-Laban to the Commission on Election (COMELEC) may lead to a “no election scenario” due to the party’s request to stop the printing of ballots until cases are resolved.

The senator clarified that this scenario is possible due to the cumbersome nature of cases such as the petition filed by PDP-Laban.

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - MAY 13: Philippine Senator Leila De Lima, a critic of President Rodrigo Duterte and who is currently detained on drug trafficking charges, casts her vote at a polling precinct on May 13, 2019 in Manila, Philippines. About 60 millions of Filipino voters will head to the polls on May 13 for the congressional midterm elections and bring a set of winners and losers for lawmakers and local government officials in the Philippines. Based on reports, Mondays midterm elections will be a test on Filipino President Rodrigo Dutertes popularity as recent polls show that his administration remains popular ahead of the midterm elections despite receiving largely negative attention overseas. (Photo by Ezra Acayan/Getty Images)
FILE PHOTO: Philippine Senator Leila De Lima, a critic of President Rodrigo Duterte and who is currently detained on drug trafficking charges, casts her vote at a polling precinct on May 13, 2019 in Manila, (Photo: Ezra Acayan/Getty Images)

"... most of these cases usually remain unsettled beyond election day. Besides, the filing of new COCs (Certificates of Candidacy) will again generate another slew of petitions for disqualification. Is Cusi saying we should as well wait for all those cases to be resolved, ad infinitum?" she said.

Should the Commission halt the printing of ballots, de Lima claimed that “no ballots will ever be printed on time for election day.”

Furthermore, the senator said that PDP-Laban’s request “reeks of privilege.”

“The so-called dominant majority party, but without standard bearer candidates for President and Vice President, is basically asking for the exclusive privilege to be exempted from the deadline for filing COCs, after all candidates serious enough to run for election in 2022 have dutifully filed their COCs within the deadline set by the COMELEC,” the senator claimed.

She concluded that the Cusi and PDP-Laban could only blame themselves for their untimeliness.

"The holding of constitutionally-mandated elections cannot be left to the inability of any political party to field standard bearers on time. That would be subjecting democratic elections to the whims and caprices of incompetent party leadership. Cusi and the leadership of PDP laban have no one else to blame but themselves," De Lima said.

Presidential term extension?

Philippines Senator Panfilo Lacson gestures during a press conference at the Senate in Manila on March 28, 2011. Lacson, who was once on Interpol's wanted list, came out of hiding on March 26 after a court ruled an arrest warrant against him for two murders was invalid, police said.      AFP PHOTO/NOEL CELIS (Photo credit should read NOEL CELIS/AFP/Getty Images)
FILE PHOTO: Philippines Senator Panfilo Lacson gestures during a press conference at the Senate in Manila on March 28, 2011. (Photo: NOEL CELIS/AFP/Getty Images)

De Lima was not the only senator concerned about the petition filed by the political party.

Senator and presidential aspirant Panfilo "Ping" Lacson mentioned that the petition might even be a reason for the extension of President Rodrigo Duterte’s presidency. However, he stressed that he would like to think otherwise on the party’s goal.

“Let me clarify and emphasize that I am not accusing the administration of any malevolent attempt in this possible scenario,” he said.

In expressing his concern, Lacson cited the Constitution, saying that it forbids a presidential term extension.

“I would not like to think that the intention of the petition to reopen the filing of the COCs filed by the PDP-Laban is to delay the election on May 9, 2022 – and pave the way for the extension of the term of office of the President beyond June 30, 2022. This is something the 1987 Constitution clearly forbids.”

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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