Nuisance? Election lawyer weighs in on #Halalan2022 'placeholders'

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 12 2021 05:28 PM

MANILA — An election lawyer on Tuesday weighed in on the issue of political parties putting "placeholders," or members filing candidacies with intention to be substituted, similar to the 2015 move of PDP-Laban when they now suddenly fielded now President Rodrigo Duterte. 

According to Emil Marañon, an aspirant admitting he was merely a "placeholder" can be a ground for him to be considered as "nuisance."

"If you admit publicly that you are just a placeholder in that you yourself has no intention to run then actually puwede ka pumasok doon sa definition ng nuisance candidate," said Marañon, who previously worked as chief of staff of the late Commission on Elections (Comelec) chair Sixto Brillantes.

The election lawyer defined what a nuisance candidate is. 

"Nuisance candidate under the law ibig sabihin po noon wala kang intensyon na sumali sa election but you're doing that for purposes such as making mockery out of the election system. Puwede ka filean ng petition to declare as a nuisance candidate," Marañon told ABS-CBN News.

(A nuisance candidate under the law, it means you have no intention to join the elections but you're doing that for purposes such as a making a mockery out of the election system. A petition can be filed against you to be declared as a nuisance candidate.)

A candidate declared as nuisance cannot be substituted, the lawyer added.

"'Pag declared ka na nuisance it means na void ab initio 'yung certificate of candidacy mo... 'Pag walang COC wala kang papalitan wala kang isa-substitute."

(Once you're declared a nuisance candidate, it means your certificate of candidacy is void ab initio... If you don't have a COC, there's nothing to substitute.)

Lakas-CMD secretary general and Deputy Speaker Prospero Pichay told ABS-CBN News on Monday that the party's presidential and vice presidential bets are placeholders. 

Pichay has since denied the admission, but still said the party will welcome Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio sa standard bearer in case she changes her mind about running.

The mayor, daughter of President Rodrigo Duterte who ran as a substitute candidate in 2016, earlier filed her COC for reelection in the Davao mayoralty. 

The period for filing COCs ended on Oct. 8, while substitutions may be made until Nov. 15. 

PDP-Laban Cusi wing standard bearer Sen. Ronald Dela Rosa likewise said he would "by all means" withdraw in the event that Duterte-Carpio, the survey frontrunner, does a U-turn. 

Sen. Kiko Pangilinan, a vice presidential aspirant, also said he is "open" to be replaced as Leni Robredo's running mate. 

According to Marañon, these remarks can form part of evidence in case a petition would be filed against an alleged placeholder.

"Public admissions and public statements contrary to one's interest is always admissible in any court including Comelec," Marañon said.

Meanwhile, Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez is proposing an absolute ban on substitution to "put an end to the manipulation and mockery of the election process."

"It is lamentable that for the May 2022 elections, certain candidates for the presidency are perceived to be proxies for some personalities, even if they can be considered as serious aspirants," he said.