Senators Move to Ban Withdrawal and Candidate Substitution

The law allows for candidate substitution under the cases of death, disqualification, or withdrawal of an aspirant. Now, a handful of senators are moving to veto the substitution of applicants who withdraw their candidacies before the election. 

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian says that the substitution rule has been repeatedly used as a political tool. | IMG Source:

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Sherwin Gatchalian filed Senate Bill No. 2349 on Monday. This bill aims to revise the Omnibus Election Code to remove withdrawal as a criteria for substitution. It will only allow swapping of candidates due to death or disqualification.

The bill is co-authored by Senators Nancy Binay, Grace Poe, Joel Villanueva, and Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri. Senator Panfilo Lacson, who filed his candidacy for president, expressed agreement for the proposal. 

In an interview with ANC, Gatchalian said, “The substitution rule has become a tool for political use and that’s not supposed to be.” This proposal applies to both national and local level.

“The spirit of the law is once you file, you don’t place placeholders in order to prolong the deadline. That’s not the spirit of the law.”

He continued to say that the practice has taunted the veracity of candidacy filing. 

The Commission of Elections (Comelec) schedules the filing of candidacy from October 1-8, but allows for substitution until November 15. Gatchalian stated that there should only be one deadline to avoid confusion and “agony of guessing who’s gonna file, who’s not gonna file.” 

In the 2016 national elections, President Rodrigo Duterte was a last-minute candidate by substituting PDP-Laban’s presidential candidate Martin Diño. Now, the party’s choice of Sen. Bato dela Rosa and Sen. Bong Go are under speculation as to whether they are merely serving as placeholders. Dela Rosa who filed only an hour before the deadline expressed that he’s willing to make way for Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte. 

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