Fooling voters? No deceit in legal substitutions, says Duterte spox
President Rodrigo Duterte's spokesman on Monday denied that some politicians were fooling voters by making late entries in the 2022 elections through substitution.
"Wala pong pagloloko dahil iyan po ay allowed sa ating batas," said Harry Roque, who, on the same day, availed of the substitution mechanism as he finally decided to throw his hat in next year's senatorial race.
(There is no deceit because that is allowed in our law.)
"Legal po yan. Nasa batas po ‘yan. Wala pong nagkukuwestyon kung illegal ‘yan. Iyan po ay allowed under the law," he said in a press briefing.
(That is legal. It is in our law. There is no question if that is illegal. It is allowed under the law.)
But while substitution is legal, is it moral?
"I do not answer questions of morality. I leave that to the people and their sovereign capacity. That’s a political question," said Roque, a lawyer.
Substitute contenders in next year's polls include Duterte, the President's daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio who is running for vice president, and his former aide Sen. Christopher "Bong" Go, who is gunning for the presidency.
After his press briefing, Roque resigned as Duterte's spokesman and filed his candidacy for senator, substituting a certain Paulo Mario Martelino of the People's Reform Party.
Roque suggested shortening the gap between the last day of filing of candidacies and the start of the campaign period, currently set in October this year and February next year, respectively.
"Siguro dapat ang gawin nating last day of filing talaga—dahil ang kinakailangan lang talaga ay ‘yong lead time para ma-print ang balota—gawin nating once and for all, November na siguro nang maalis na iyong substitution," Roque said.
(Perhaps we should make the last day of filing—because lead time is only necessary for the printing of the ballot—we should make it once and for all, November, so that substitution would be removed.)
Vice President Leni Robredo and other observers had said that the abuse of the substitution mechanism is a mockery of the country's election laws.
Duterte was a substitute candidate in the 2016 elections. The validity of his substitution was questioned by some individuals who noted that the certificate of candidacy of Martin Diño, whom he was replacing then, indicated the position of Mayor of Pasay City, and not President of the Philippines.
But the Commission on Elections ruled that Diño's COC was valid, saying, he clearly intended to file his candidacy for President, clarified further by the accompanying certificate of nomination and acceptance by PDP-Laban. As such, it said that Diño may be substituted validly by Duterte as Presidential candidate of their party.