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Gatchalian files bill vs. nuisance candidates but Comelec wary

GMA News Online logo GMA News Online 10/19/2018 Kaufman, Karl
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, chair of the Senate Committee on Energy, on Wednesday, February 14, 2018, presides over a hearing on a legislative measure that seeks to enhance the governance structure of the Energy Regulatory Commission. © Senate PRIB/Romeo Bugante Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, chair of the Senate Committee on Energy, on Wednesday, February 14, 2018, presides over a hearing on a legislative measure that seeks to enhance the governance structure of the Energy Regulatory Commission.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian has filed a bill seeking to penalize nuisance candidates, but the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said such provision may be difficult to "operationalize."

Gatchalian's Senate Bill 911 "seeks to amend Sections 69, 261, and 269 of the Omnibus Election Code, stating that while the Comelec is mandated by law to receive certificates of candidacies as its ministerial duty, the onslaught of candidates who do not intend to launch a viable campaign is wasting the precious time and resources of Comelec."

But according to Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez, the proposal may create a chilling effect to individuals who want to run for a government position.

"Medyo mahirap i-operationalize siguro 'yan 'no, kasi paano 'yan, isang tingin mo lang mag-decide ka na kaagad na nuisance candidate 'yun? So hindi 'yan applicable sa lahat ng kaso," Jimenez said in a phone interview on Unang Balita.

"Ibig sabihin niyan, ang mangyayari magki-create ka ngayon ng parang risk, magfa-file ka lang ng COC kapag willing ka mag-risk na hindi ka made-declare na nuisance... di kaya mag-create ng chilling effect 'yan doon sa mga gustong tumakbo?" he added.

"Although may grounds ang Comelec for declaring nuisance, di naman nape-predict 'yan all the time. Kung minsan 'yung akala mong talagang sure na sure biglang nuisance," Jimenez said.

15 minutes of fame

Gatchalian, in a separate interview on Unang Balita, said his bill aims to penalize those who want to use the filing of COC to see themselves on TV.

"Sa filing makikita po natin may nagsasabing siya ay si Jesus Christ, siya po ay boyfriend ni Kris Aquino, nag-file siya dahil gusto niya sa TV," he said.

"So 'yung intensyon ng nag-file ay di po para maglingkod, ang intensyon po ay para lumabas sa TV at gumawa ng mga gimmick para mapagusapan. So ang ibig sabihin nito ang intensyon ng tao ay di para maglingkod," Gatchalian added.

Gatchalian's proposed measure noted that if an individual was proven to have no genuine intention to run for public office, he/she shall be guilty of an election offense and shall face a P50,000 fine.

"Sa batas ho natin pag ikaw ay dineclare na nuisance candidate, meron kang multa na babayaran na P50,000," the senator said.

Meanwhile, Jimenez said the Comelec has not yet seen Gatchalian's proposed law, but he noted that the poll body will look into it.

"Hindi pa namin nakikita officially 'yung panukalang batas na 'yan. In fact hindi pa din alam ang nilalaman ng mismong panukala. Alam lang natin ang gusto niyang mangyari ay magpataw ng parusa so marami tayong katanungan diyan," Jimenez said.

During the five-day period given by Comelec, a total of 152 senatorial aspirants filed COCs while 185 party-list groups are vying for seats in next year’s midterm elections. —Anna Felicia Bajo/KBK, GMA News

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