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How Special is Special?

When we hear the words ‘Special Elections,’ what is the first thing that we can think of? It could be that the COMELEC would be holding special elections because there is an unexpected vacancy in congress due to circumstances beyond human control, like the passing away of a congressman or congresswoman.

But not many of us know that there are several special elections that are conducted and these are all defined by our laws. Other than the elections to fill a vacancy in congress, there is also the special elections to fill the vacancies in case where the President and the Vice President of the Philippines dies or becomes permanently disabled (Sec. 7, Article VII of the Constitution), the manner in which they are selected shall be provided for by congress through the passing of a law. Another special election would take place in case where vacancies in the office of the President and Vice President of the Philippines occur because of their death, permanent disability, removal from office or resignation (Section 8, Article VII of the Constitution).

A special election would also be held in the cases enumerated under Section 5 and Section 6 of BP 881 or the Omnibus Election Code. Section 5 refers to Postponement of elections and this is due to violence, terrorism, loss or destruction of election paraphernalia or records, force majeure and other analogous causes and that the holding of free, orderly and honest elections in a certain area would become impossible. Section 6 on the other hand refers to Failure of Election where there exists force majeure, violence, terrorism, fraud, or other analogous causes and the elections were not held on the day fixed by law or if the elections were held but there occurs a problem in the preparation and transmission of election returns or in the custody or canvass thereof and would result in a failure to elect, or the suspension of the elections would affect the results of the elections, a special elections would be scheduled after the observance of the proper procedures.

Another kind of special elections would be those involving vacancies occurring in the offices of the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK). The SK official who obtained the highest number of votes in the elections immediately preceding, shall assume office (Section 19 (a) RA 10742 or the SK Act of 2015). After said vacancies are filled, there shall be a call for special elections through a Katipunan ng Kabataan assembly to elect the SK member who shall complete the membership of the sanggunian (Section 19 (b) RA 10742).

The elections that are held, because the registered voters of a local government unit has lost confidence in their elected local government official under Section 69 of the Local Government Code, is also a special kind of elections known as Recall. Lastly, the elections that registered voters will call whenever they would like to propose amendments or revisions to the Constitution (Section 1, Article XVII of the Constitution) or whenever they would like to enact laws or local laws (RA 6735, implemented by Comelec Resolution no. 10650) are all special elections.

So, how special is special? These enumerated special elections are different or unusual because they can be conducted only after the occurrence unique circumstances and are not exercised during regular election periods. These are all granted by law so that even during exceptional times, the right of suffrage will never be denied to all qualified registered voters. This likewise includes the right to participate in the enactment, amendment or revision of laws.

A more detailed discussion will be made on special elections this coming Friday, June 18, 2021 at 9am at our Balitaktakan Segment on RNG Luzon. Please watch it.

***All comments mentioned in this article are made in my personal capacity as a lawyer and are not made as an employee of the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

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