Substitution does not harm electoral process; voluntary withdrawal a remedy for political parties - Comelec

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 28) — The Commission on Elections on Thursday defended again the substitution scheme, noting this time that imposing a ban would only hold a political party hostage to the whim of an indecisive aspirant.

"If you take out the ability of a party to substitute against a voluntary withdrawal, in effect you are holding the party hostage to the whim of a candidate," Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez told CNN Philippines' The Source.

"If a candidate files a Certificate of Candidacy under pretense of good faith and then later on says 'ayaw ko na [I don't want to run anymore],' you are going to leave the political party high and dry," he added. "That’s not fair."

Jimenez stressed that substitution for voluntary withdrawals "is still a necessary remedy, particularly for political parties." He said it brings "no damage" to the electoral system but acknowledged that there is a need for regulation.

"There's no damage to the electoral system if substitution happens but again, because of how it is being used now, maybe there’s room for some sort of regulation," he said. "But an outright ban would not be ideal."

Lawmakers earlier filed measures seeking to prohibit the substitution of candidates, following speculations that some contenders, like presidential aspirant Sen. Bato dela Rosa, as well as the presidential and vice-presidential bets of Lakas-CMD, are only "placeholders" ahead of the deadline.

Section 77 of the Omnibus Election Code allows a candidate of a registered or accredited party to be substituted in case of death, disqualification, or withdrawal.

Substitution for political candidates in the 2022 polls is until Nov. 15.