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Manipulation and mockery

After the rush to file certificates of candidacy revealed questionable practices and the blatant exploitation of election law loopholes by both candidates and political parties, it has become apparent that something has to be done. However, with most of the country’s legislators belonging to the same power hungry political dynasties that have benefitted from the current set of rules, most Filipinos didn’t expect their representatives to step up.

It turns out there is still some hope left for the possibility of election reforms as House Deputy Speaker Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan de Oro City is eyeing measures that will ban substitution of candidates and require officials aspiring for elective posts to resign or be considered automatically resigned upon filing of COCs.

“One reform is an almost absolute ban on substitution on candidates by political parties. Another is the restoration of the old rule requiring incumbent officials to resign or to be deemed automatically resigned upon the filing of their COCs for other positions,” Rodriguez said on Tuesday as he hoped the reforms will “put an end to the manipulation and mockery of the election process.”

Since the introduction of the practice that allows candidate-switching, Rodriguez said many people have become doubtful of the seriousness of some officials who filed their COCs. He is proposing that substitution be prohibited unless the candidate-nominee of a political party dies or is disqualified before Election Day.

Such a ban will give the Commission on Elections more time to screen COC filers, prepare the final list of candidates and print the official ballots and related paraphernalia, Rodriguez added.

He believes the candidate substitution ban and the requirement for incumbent officials to resign to become candidates are reforms that would complement each other. The proposed reforms would force aspirants to take running for office seriously and stop them from manipulating and mocking the electoral process.

“This would also make more people believe in the integrity of our elections,” Rodriguez stressed.

The shameless manipulation and mockery of the electoral process has gone on for too long. The only way to reduce the damage and restore the integrity of elections in the country would be for much-needed reforms to be implemented. Will the politicians and legislators who comprise most of the primary perpetrators of these disgusting practices support a push to reform the electoral process so it benefits the greater good instead of their own selfish and power-hungry interests?*

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