Substitution system 'being gamed' but Congress can change it - Comelec spox

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 11 2021 10:44 AM | Updated as of Nov 11 2021 01:09 PM

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MANILA - The system on candidates' substitution is "being gamed," but Congress would have the right and the power to amend these provisions, the spokesperson of the Commission on Elections said Thursday.

Substitution of political aspirants was allowed originally to balance the need to protect a person's right to run and not run for public office and the need to protect a political party from a "whimsical withdrawal," said Comelec Director James Jimenez. 

"We believe that there is a good purpose behind it. That is not to say that Congress cannot change it. If Congress has a different opinion, well Congress has plenary powers. They can do whatever they want," he told ANC's Headstart.

"It’s clear that this system that’s allowed by law is being gamed. It’s being taken advantage of in ways that perhaps Congress originally did not actually foresee...The law as it stands had a laudable purpose in the beginning and perhaps Congress can now see a way to maybe make it more rational in light of current events," he said.

Jimenez also noted that said rules on substitution currently do not state that a substitute should be a long-standing member of the party that the original aspirant is part of.

"So while it might make sense for some people that there should be some sort of requirement that a substitute should be an existing or current member, there’s really nothing preventing new members from coming in and substituting for the candidate," he said.

The deadline for substitution is set for November 15. Among the most anticipated development in this arena is the next move of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, who withdrew her reelection bid. At least one ally said she is eyeing the presidency.

Another presidential candidate, Sen. Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa, earlier admitted he did not make any preparations to run in next year's elections but was told to file his candidacy 2 hours before the filing of candidacies closed.

He said he was not told that he was going to become a "placeholder" but that he expected the party to adopt Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte to substitute him.

"Kung napagdesisyunan ng partido na ipapalit si Inday Sara as a more viable, more winnable candidate, by all means I have to abide by party decisions...Kung hindi talaga makatakbo si Inday Sara, buo ang loob ko na lumaban sa eleksyong ito," he said.

Sen. Bong Go, a long time aide of President Duterte, has also hinted at changes in his vice-presidential bid. He made the announcement on the same day that Sara Duterte withdrew her candidacy for Davao City mayor.

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