Those intending to run in the May 2013 polls will start filing their certificates of candidacy (COC) this Monday
There are 18,053 elective positions to be filled up in next year’s polls when the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and accredited watch groups are likely to face more intense pressures as the country holds its first synchronized political exercises on national, regional and local dimensions.
Of the 18,053 slots, 12 senatorial and 80 party-list representation seats will have to be decided upon by the entire Filipino electorate on a national scale.
The regional level is exclusive for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) voters who are to elect 26 officials – a regional governor, vice governor and 24 Regional Legislative Assembly members.
The local dimension involves all concerned voters to elect 233 district representatives (Congress members), 80 provincial governors, 80 vice governors, 766 provincial board members,, 143 city mayors, 143 city vice mayors, 1,598 city council members, 1,491 municipal mayors, 1,491 town vice mayors, and 11,932 municipal council members.
The Comelec said the five-day period for the filing of COCs for all elective positions will start from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The poll body said COCs are to be filed at the Project Management Office at the Comelec Main Office in Intramuros, Manila for senators; Office of National Capital Region Director for Metro Manila congressmen; Office of the Provincial Election Supervisor for provincial officials, including congressmen; Office of the City/Municipal Election Officer for city/municipal officials; Office of the ARMM Regional Election Director for ARMM governor and vice governor; and Office of the ARMM Provincial Election Supervisor for ARMM legislative assembly members.
“The COC shall be filed by the candidate personally or by his duly authorized representative, whose authority shall be in writing, under oath and attached thereto,” read Comelec Resolution No. 9518.
Expected COCs are for the 12 senators; 229 district members of the House of Representatives; 80 governors; 80 vice-governors; 766 members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan; 138 city mayors; 138 city vice mayors; 1,532 members of the Sangguniang Panlungsod; 1,496 municipal mayors; 1,496 municipal vice mayors; and 11,972 members of the Sangguniang Bayan.
Also to be filled up next year are the posts of one regional governor, one regional vice governor, and 24 regional assemblymen for the ARMM.
The Comelec in the same resolution also reminded would-be candidates of the effects of the filing of COC to those holding appointive and elective positions.
The resolution states that any person holding an appointive office or position shall be considered “ipso facto” resigned from office and must vacate it at the start of the day of the filing of his/her COC.
On the other hand, any person holding an elective office or position shall not be considered resigned upon the filing of COC whether for the same or any other elective office or position.
Because it is the first time the ARMM elections is synchronized with the national and local polls, the region’s registered voters are expected to have the longest size of ballots to fill up to elect 26 officials not available in other regions.
Compounding the extra electoral features in ARMM is the absence of the officially validated list of registered voters in the region, which comprises Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi provinces and the cities of Marawi and Lamitan.
The Comelec conducted last July 9-18 a general voters registration to come up with a list that would replace the list of 1.8-million voters Congress and the polls body nullified on suspicion of being rigged with “ghost” voters, double registrants and other dubious entries.
After the new registration, poll officials reported just 1.5-million actual registrants. Succeeding initial validations showed more than 60,000 unqualified registrants, they said, adding that final validations will likely bring the ARMM voters to just 1.2-million.
The Comelec had moved the period of final validation from September to few more weeks due to technical problems in the required computerized machines.
Stakeholders including journalists in ARMM have floated queries on how the Comelec would be entertaining regional candidates’ certificates of candidacy (COCs) this coming Oct. 1-5 when it has validated voters list for the region yet.
Higher authorities including the Comelec have yet also to lay down a clear decision on whether or not appointed officers-in-charge in ARMM could run for regional elective positions without being deemed resigned.
Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes appealed to those filing their COCs to avoid the fiesta-like atmosphere.
“We appeal to candidates to dispense with all the fanfares. Let us make the filing of COCs this coming October 1 to 5 as dignified as it should be,” he said.
Meanwhile, a Church-backed poll watchdog group asked voters yesterday to monitor those who will file their COCs today.
Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) Chairperson Henrietta de Villa said voters should monitor the possible candidates for the May 2013 polls so they can start researching their background.
“Find out who filed their COC, for what position and start researching about them, their track record, business and religious affiliation, any trace of corruption or violence, capabilities for position he filed for, integrity etc.,” she said in an interview.
The country’s former ambassador to the Vatican said the electorate should know the candidates this early, so that come Election time their selection is informed, principled and responsible.
De Villa, meantime, asked would-be candidates to think of truth, justice, peace, country and God when they file their COC.
“What you think, you become. If what you think is always for self-gain then eventually corruption becomes your reflex. If you think truth, then it will be hard for you to think of padding the true cost of a project. If you think justice, you will not buy votes because it is unjust advantage over other candidates who don’t, and unjust to the poor whose poverty you exploit and morals you corrupt,” she said.
“If you think peace, you will not condone violence of your supporters to be inflicted on your opponent. If you think country you will always have the common good as the base and vision of your service and programs. If you think God, how can you go wrong?” added De Villa.
The filing of COC for all elective positions is from October 1 to 5, 2012.
Meanwhile, senatorial wannabes are hoping that promotion of people’s interest will be on top of political sorties as most of the candidates are expected to file their COCs today.
Aurora Rep. Sonny Angara, a stalwart of the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP) who will run under the Liberal Party-led coalition, said candidates should set examples for the youth and should work towards the improvement of political system.
“There has never been an election where there was no mudslinging, but we hope it can be a campaign based on issues. One hope is that it will be a race to the top or pagalingan ng programa kaysa mapunta sa siraan lamang or race to the bottom,” he said.
The LP has forged partnership with country’s key political parties, including LDP, Nacionalista Party (NP), Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), and National Unity Party (NUP).
Apart from Angara, also included in the LP’s Magic 12 are Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano (NP), former Las Piñas City Rep. Cynthia Villar (NP), Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV (NP), Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero (Independent), Sen. Koko Pimentel (Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan or PDP-Laban), former Sens. Jamby Madrigal (LP) and Ramon Magsaysay Jr., presidential cousin Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV (LP), Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) chairperson Grace Poe-Llamanzares, former Akbayan party-list Rep. Risa Hontiveros and Sen. Loren Legarda (NPC).
For her part, Zambales Rep. Ma. Milagros “Mitos” Magsaysay, who was included in the senatorial slate of United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), said politicians should get away with their “personality-based” campaign.
“I’m wishing that the campaign will be an issue and advocacy based than personality based. Criticisms are alright as long as it is issue oriented,” she said.
Magsaysay’s fellow UNA candidate, San Juan City Rep. Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito said while he expects a “little mudslinging” during campaign, he still hopes there will be “friendly fight” among rival candidates.
“Well, I want a friendly fight but of course in politics, there will be a little mudslinging. We want a clean fight. We are not really hard core opposition,” he said.
He explained while they are not part of the ruling administration coalition, they rally behind the socio-economic and political reforms being implemented by President Benigno S. Aquino III.
“We are supportive of the President but we are not members of the Liberal Party. We are just presenting ourselves as the alternative to the administration candidates. I hope the public would take a look at our performance and track record, even if name recall is important,” he said.
Joining Ejercito and Magsaysay in the UNA senatorial line-up were Cagayan Rep. Jack Enrile, businessman Joey de Venecia III, former Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri, Sen. Gringo Honasan, former Sen.
Richard Gordon, former Sen. Ernesto Maceda, presidential aunt and former Tarlac Gov. Margarita “Tingting” Couangco and would be adopting Escudero, Legarda and Poe as guest candidates. —with a report from Charissa M. Luci
By LESLIE ANN G. AQUINO and ALI G. MACABALANG