MANILA - The midterm election season kicked off Thursday with politicians registering for thousands of elective posts, even as the interior department sought to disqualify candidates with alleged drug links.
The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency has tagged at least 93 local officials, of whom 58 are mayors, as having links to narcotics, interior department officer-in-charge Eduardo Año earlier said.
Commission on Elections spokesperson James Jimenez said drug-tagged candidates could only be barred from running in the elections if there is a final conviction from the Supreme Court against them.
"Hindi sila madi-disqualify just because nasa listahan sila," he told radio DZMM. "Walang 'matic na disqualification."
(They will not be disqualified just because they are on the list. There is no such thing as automatic disqualification.)
Some 18,000 positions are up for grabs in the May 13, 2019 elections, according to a Comelec memorandum. Among these posts are:
59 party-list representatives
238 district representatives
81 vice governors
776 provincial board members
145 city mayors
145 city vice mayors
1,624 city councilors
1,489 municipal mayors
1,489 municipal vice mayors
11,916 municipal councilors
1 ARMM governor
1 ARMM vice governor
24 ARMM assemblymen
The weeklong filing of certificates of candidacy will run from today until October 17.
"Panawagan natin sa mga kandidato natin na sana galangin nila iyung dignidad ng proseso, huwag gawing circus ika nga. Mahalaga sa atin na very orderly dapat ang magaganap na filing today," said Jimenez.
(We urge the candidates to respect the dignity of the process, do not turn it into a circus. It's important for us that the filing is orderly.)
The campaign period for candidates for the Senate and party-list groups will be from February 12 to May 11, with campaigning prohibited on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.
The campaign period for candidates for the House of Representatives and local positions will be from March 30 to May 11.
Campaigning is prohibited in the entire country on May 12 and May 13, election day. A liquor ban will also be in effect on the same days, while a gun ban will be in effect all throughout the election period.
Starting Nov. 30, 2018 until midday of election day, the substitute of an official candidate of a political party or coalition who died or was disqualified by final judgment may file their COC provided that the substitute has the same name as the original candidate.
Bookmark this page for a livestreaming of the COC filing at the Comelec office in Manila.