By Ferdinand Patinio

Commission on Elections headquarters at Palacio del Gobernador in Intramuros, Manila (PNA file photo)

MANILA – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is looking into disallowing substitution due to the withdrawal of a candidate beyond the Oct. 8, 2024 deadline for the filing of candidacy for next year’s midterm elections.

In an interview with Radyo5 on Monday, Comelec chairperson George Erwin Garcia said he would recommend the measure during the poll body en banc’s meeting on Wednesday.

He added that the new rule is part of their function as a constitutional body and aims to stop deception of the electorate.

“Kaya po ang ating pagkukumbinsi sa Commission en banc, hindi na natin papayagan ang substitution kung ang dahilan ay pagwi-withdraw, maliban na lang po kung ang dahilan ay kamatayan o disqualification (It appears that the decision on substitution is up to the Comelec’s discretion. So if that’s the case, it is within our purview whether we will allow it or not. This is why I am convincing the Commission en banc not to allow the substitution on the basis of withdrawal, except for the reason of death or disqualification),” he explained.

Garcia said substitution until election day will be allowed only if the substitute candidate has the same family name and belongs to the same political party.

He said his proposal was “already approved in principle” based on his talks with fellow en banc members.

“Naka-usap na po natin mga kasamahan natin sa Commission en banc and they fully agree sa aking position sapagkat sabi nila, dapat na mahinto ‘yang mga ganyang klaseng mga panglalanse, panlilinlang sa ating mga kababayan (We talked to our fellow members in the Commission en banc and they fully agree with my position because they said this kind of deception of our compatriots must stop),” the poll body chair said.

He added that those who really want to serve and run in the polls should not hesitate or resort to such tactics.

In the 2022 presidential elections, the substitution for a candidate was allowed until Nov. 15, more than a month after the Oct. 8, 2021 deadline for the filing of certificates of candidacy (COCs).

Garcia added substitution would not cover independent candidates.

All national and local candidates for the May 12, 2025 national and local elections may file their COCs from Oct. 1 to 8.

Those running for the Senate would have to file their COCs at the Comelec main office in Intramuros, Manila or at a venue to be set by the poll body, while local candidates may file at the local Comelec offices where they are based. (PNA)