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To Substitute or Not to Substitute

Substitution in election laws, is an act where a person replaces a candidate who withdraws, dies or is disqualified within the period allowed by law. BP 881, also known as the Omnibus Election Code, Section 77 thereof, requires that only the substitute who belongs to and certified by, the same political party may file a Certificate of Candidacy (CoC) to replace the candidate who withdrew, died or was disqualified for any cause. Also, in Section 40 of Comelec Resolution no. 10717, it is required that the substitute may file a CoC for the office affected on or before November 15, 2021, so that the name of the substitute will be reflected on the official ballots.

Some candidates, for some reason, would opt not to file their CoCs, as regular candidates, but as substitute candidates, taking advantage of the periods wherein they can still serve as government employees longer before resigning or retiring in order to run for office. Others would also come to the Comelec Office, their minds not yet made up whether they should pursue running to become public officials, or just be content with being private citizens, and the rest comprise most of the spectators in the political scenario.

Some cases concerning substitution could prove to be very interesting especially to those who are filing their CoCs this coming October 1-8, 2021 for the May 9, 2022 National and Local Elections. One case is about Bitong (our hypothetical name) who files a CoC on the last day allowed for filing of CoCs and immediately withdraws the same in the afternoon. Pepong (another hypothetical name), his long time friend, substitutes him before the end of such last day. Can this be done? Is Pepong considered a candidate?

Another case is about Bitong who files his CoC but is then disqualified by being a three-termer. Realizing this, he lets his wife, Bebang substitute him. The name of Bitong, still in the ballots, garners 44,099 votes as against his opponent, Pepong, who only obtained 39,615 votes. The Board of Canvassers proclaims Bebang. Is there a valid substitution? Note that in the above-mentioned cases, the time of filing the CoC to substitute becomes very important.

The third case involves Pepong who files a CoC but is disqualified because his opponent successfully proves that the former is not a resident of the place where he is running. Pepong is substituted by his lovely wife, Pepang. Considering that Pepong is disqualified, can he be validly substituted? Can a person who is disqualified, for any reason be validly substituted?

Similarly, if Bitong, being underage, is substituted by his sister Bitang, or his mother Mrs. Bitang, are such substitutions allowed since Bitong is not even qualified to run for public office? Is Bitong’s CoC valid in this case?

Lastly, where Bitong, who is a gubernatorial candidate, dies right after the deadline for filing of CoCs. Bitang, his wife, who is a mayoralty candidate of the same area, withdraws her CoC for Mayor and substitutes Bitong. Bitang, on the other hand, was substituted by Pepong. Is the substitution of Bitang by Pepong valid considering that the deadline for substitution due to withdrawal had already lapsed? Will it matter if Pepong was proclaimed winner?

To substitute or not to substitute depends on the minds of the aspiring candidates, whether they will push through with their candidacies. Should they withdraw, then the ‘substituters’ are given the chance to run for office. Let us find out more on Friday’s Election Day Program on Regional News Group’s Balitaktakan Segment on September 17, 2021. See you.

***All comment/s and opinion/s in this article are made by me in my personal capacity as a lawyer and not as an employee of the Comelec.

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