Published 15 October 2018, The Daily Tribune
With the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) having set the filing of candidates’ certificates of candidacy (COC) from October 11 to October 17 (except October 13 and 14) from 8 AM to 5 PM, the election fever has started to rise nationwide. The excitement that usually takes over the entire country when an election is fast approaching signals, among other things, that we, as Filipino people, still deeply care about and cherish our right to vote and be voted for. This article will discuss the guidelines for those who will be filing their certificates of candidacy on the dates designated by COMELEC.
The first thing that aspirants for elective posts must ensure is that they possess all the qualifications mandated by law. For those running for the Senate, the Constitution requires them to be natural-born citizens, they must be at least thirty-five years of age on election day, able to read and write, a registered voter, and a resident of the Philippines for not less than two years immediately preceding the day of the election. As for candidates for membership in the House of Representatives, the Constitution mandates that they be natural-born citizens and, on the day of the election, they must be at least twenty-five years of age, able to read and write, and, except the party-list representatives, a registered voter in the district in which they shall be elected, and a resident thereof for a period of not less than one year immediately preceding the day of the election. With respect to party-list representatives, Section 9 of Republic Act (RA) 7941 imposes these additional requirements: they must be registered voters, a bona fide member of the party or organization which they seek to represent for at least ninety days preceding the election.
As regards local elective officials, Section 39 of the Local Government Code or RA 7160 provides for their qualifications: An elective local official must be a citizen of the Philippines; a registered voter in the barangay, municipality, city, or province or, in the case of a member of the sangguniang panlalawigan, sangguniang panlungsod, or sangguniang bayan, the district where he intends to be elected; a resident therein for at least one year immediately preceding the day of the election; and able to read and write Filipino or any other local language or dialect. Candidates for the position of governor, vice-governor, or member of the sangguniang panlalawigan, or mayor, vice-mayor or member of the sangguniang panlungsod of highly urbanized cities must be at least twenty-one years of age on election day. On the other hand, candidates for the position of mayor or vice-mayor of independent component cities, component cities, or municipalities must be at least twenty-one years of age on election day. Finally, candidates for the position of member of the sangguniang panlungsod or sangguniang bayan must be at least eighteen years of age on election day.
In addition to all these requirements, the candidates must make sure that he has not been found liable for an offense which carries with it the accessory penalty of perpetual disqualification to hold public office which has become final and executory. In the new COC template issued by COMELEC for the 2019 Elections, the candidate is asked this query as Question No. 22. While this additional question has been criticized by legal experts as unconstitutional as it disqualifies a candidate without due process, it is safe for the candidates to answer this question and comply in the meantime that this new form has not been invalidated by the proper authorities.
These requirements may seem basic but sometimes, errors in the basics prove to be fatal. Thus, if a candidate mistakenly states his period of residence in his COC, he can be subjected to a petition to cancel his certificate which may result in its cancellation. Even if the petition does not succeed, tackling the case alone can be burdensome on the candidate and can potentially hurt his campaign and his chances at winning on Election Day. Knowing these requirements is not only useful for candidates, it can also be beneficial to conscientious voters in scrutinizing the candidates they will vote for to represent them in the government machinery. If they know that a particular candidate does not possess the qualifications required by law, they can always file a petition to deny due course to the candidate’s certificate of candidacy or petition for disqualification to prevent him from occupying an office for which he is not qualified for.
Once a candidate determines that he is qualified, he must submit a COC with COMELEC. The formalities of a certificate of candidacy, COMELEC Resolution No. 10420, which has been uploaded on the COMELEC website (www.comelec.gov.ph), provides all the technical requirements that a candidate must comply with in accomplishing and submitting his certificate. The Resolution also contains where the candidate should file his certificate. It is imperative to know the venue for filing because if a candidate files his certificate in the wrong COMELEC office, it shall be deemed not filed.
A provision in Resolution No. 10420 that I wish to highlight here also is Section 18, which provides the guidelines in case there will still be aspirants present at the COMELEC offices within the last 15 minutes of the last day of filing or on October 17. This is a notable provision because Filipinos are known to have the bad habit of doing things the last minute. So if at 4:45 PM on October 17, there are still persons intending to file their certificates of candidacy and are already inside the designated queuing area, the COMELEC receiving officer shall list the names of all those within the queuing area and call them in the order in which they are listed. When the name of the aspiring candidate is called, he must proceed with the filing of his certificate of candidacy because if he fails to appear, his certificate of candidacy shall not be accepted. The same procedure shall be filed if there are still persons wishing to file their certificates of candidacy in the queuing area at 5 PM on the last day of filing.
If you are one of those who have decided to contribute to the well-being of this nation by becoming a public servant, be sure first that you are qualified and that you submit a properly accomplished COC. Good luck!
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