PDP Laban secretary general Atty. Melvin Matibag on Thursday rejected allegations that political parties, which would avail of the period for substitution of their standard bearers in the 2022 national elections, are making a mockery of the electoral process.
The ruling party earlier brushed aside speculations that Sen. Ronald Dela Rosa, is merely a “placeholder” for presidential daughter, Davao Mayor Sara Duterte.
Matibag earlier stressed that Dela Rosa, who filed his certificate of candidacy (COC) on the last day, is not a “last-minute candidate” as he is on the shortlist of possible presidential candidates of the ruling party since it began the internal selection process.
“If the real intent of the Omnibus Election Code envisioned only those who will die along the way or be disqualified, then why didn’t the lawmakers just state so? It’s that simple. If the law is clear there should be no room for interpretation,” Matibag said.
Article IX, Section 77 of the Omnibus Election Code provides that “If after the last day for the filing of certificates of candidacy, an official candidate of a registered or accredited political party dies, withdraws or is disqualified for any cause, only a person belonging to, and certified by, the same political party may file a certificate of candidacy to replace the candidate who died, withdrew or was disqualified.”
Under the Commission on Election’s calendar for the 2022 polls, substitution for a candidate in a national or local post can be allowed from the end of the COC filing period until 15 November 2021.
“It’s not a mockery of the elections law if the political parties use every available legal option, or time, for them to finally decide the candidates to field,” Matibag stressed.
Earlier, Matibag said that PDP Laban is preparing to roll out its caravan to campaign for the tandem of Dela Rosa and his vice presidential running mate, Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go. Still, he said there is nothing wrong if the party decides to have a substitute for “Bato” on or before 15 November.
“The Comelec resolution allows for substitution up to November 15. That is a process that we have to respect and recognize,” Matibag had said.
He stressed that the Comelec deadlines have a “certain logic” to them, noting that the 15 November deadline simply means the Comelec has ample time to print the ballots containing the final list of candidates.
Matibag said the issue of substitution would not have mattered had President Rodrigo Duterte not won in 2016 as a substitute candidate for PDP Laban.
“Any political party can opt to utilize the rule on substitution as it is allowed by law. It is available to everyone without distinction. A mockery is when rules are not applied equally. And every party is entitled to employ its own political strategies,” he said.
“Just like the Liberal Party Chairperson choosing to run as an independent candidate and changing her color from yellow to pink. In short, anyone in the political game may employ a strategy as long as it is within the bounds of the rules,” Matibag added.
However, Matibag refused to comment on the admission of Lakas-CMD executive Prospero Pichay that they fielded “place-holder” candidates Anna Capella Velasco (President) and Lyle Fernando Uy (VP) due to the “fluidity” of the situation. Pichay was quoted as saying that they are looking at the possibility of adopting either Mayor Sara Duterte or Bongbong Marcos.
“I cannot comment on the Lakas-CMD actions since this concerns a party decision which candidates to field, endorse or adopt. But of course, we are always open to alliances to help PDP Laban candidates,” Matibag said.
The controversy over the issue of substitution of candidates has prompted a lawmaker in the House of Representatives to say he would propose an amendment to the law that would impose a ban on substitution unless the candidate-nominee of a political party dies or is disqualified before election day.
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