Beginning today, the Commission of Elections (Comelec) will separate the grain from the chaff.
The arduous task of weeding out nuisance candidates will be the next focus of the commission, two days after it stopped accepting certificates of candidacy (COC) from thousands of candidates aspiring for the more than 18,000 elective posts nationwide.
As of Friday, there were 130 presidential wannabes. Nineteen filed their COC for Vice President while 172 others were seeking a Senate seat.
Under Batas Pambansa (BP) 881 or the Omnibus Election Code, the Comelec has authority to reject candidacies of persons who make a mockery of the election system, those with names similar to more known bets who file anyway to confuse voters and those with no intention of actually running for office.
Article IX, Section 69, of BP 881 states, “The commission may motu propio, or upon a verified petition of an interested party, refuse to give due course to or cancel a certificate of candidacy it if is shown that said certificate has been filed to put the election process in mockery or disrepute or to cause confusion among the voters by the similarity of the names of the registered candidates or by other circumstances or acts which clearly demonstrate that the candidate has no bona fide intention to run for the office for which the certificate of candidacy has been filed and thus prevent a faithful determination of the true will of the electorate.”
But even then, James Jimenez, Comelec spokesman, said the poll body will give everybody a fair chance to make it to the official list through a rigid evaluation process.
“Our evaluation process is actually not that simplistic. Of course, there are tendencies to dismiss some candidates offhand. But we have to actually hear them and decide on the basis of that hearing whether or not to declared nuisance a candidate finally,” he explained.
According to Jimenez, those candidates who want to run for President but lack the funds or means to launch a nationwide campaign will be weeded out.
He said using social media as an alternative in order to reach out to the electorate will not make one a serious candidate.
“Not everybody knows [or have access to social media]. Second, not all voters are in the social media. There is a question on the potential for a meaningful campaign leading to reasonable expectation [of] victory,” Jimenez added.
“So there will be a rejection on the basis of that,” he said.
Of the 130 who filed their COC for President, only four have the machinery, resources and potential to launch a nationwide campaign. They are Liberal Party (LP) standard-bearer Manuel Roxas 2nd, Vice President Jejomar Binay of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), independent candidate Sen. Grace Poe and Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, who will be running under her People’s Reform Party.
Although the Comelec is yet to start its evaluation process, one aspirant for President is definitely out of the official list.
He is “Manuel Antonio Roxas,” an independent and namesake of the LP standard-bearer.
Aside from Roxas, Binay, Poe and Santiago, there are several other prominent personalities who want to become President–former Iloilo congressman and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority chief Augusto Syjuco Jr., former Presidential Commission on Good Government Chairman Camilo Sabio, incumbent Overseas Workers Club party-list Rep. Roy Señeres and lawyer Rizalito David, who ran but lost in the 2013 senatorial elections.
For Vice President, only six are deemed to make it to the official list–Sen. Gregorio Honasan (UNA), Rep. Leni Robredo (LP), Sen. Francis Escudero (Independent), Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. (Independent), Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th (Independent), and Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano (Independent).
Of the 172 who filed their COC for senator, no more than 60 may make it to the official list.
Only the LP has completed its 12-man senatorial line-up, which include former Sen. Panfilo Lacson, an independent candidate who was adopted by the administration party.
Those who filed under UNA were Rep. Manny Pacquiao, former actress Alma Moreno, broadcaster Rey Langit, Princess Jacel Kiram (heir to the Sultanate of Sulu), former Philippine National Police-Special Action Force chief Getulio Napenas and a certain Allan Montano.
Poe and Santiago are yet to name their Senate bets.
The Comelec will come out with the final list of official candidates on December 10.