Editorial: Mocking the electoral process

Wanting “an end to the manipulation and mockery of the election process,” House Deputy Speaker Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan de Oro City said on Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021, said he will file bills banning substitution of candidates and requiring incumbent officials to resign upon the filing of their certificates of candidacy for other position.

On the last day of filing of COCs last Oct. 8, Sen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa beat the deadline and filed his papers for his supposed run for the presidency in the May 2022 elections under the PDP-Laban wing acknowledged by President Rodrigo Duterte.

The former police general and chief architect of the administration’s bloody war on drugs later said he was not told that he would only be a placeholder; however, he said he is “very much willing” to drop his bid should the presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio change her mind and seek the highest elective position in the country. The neophyte senator said the Davao City mayor’s “winnability is high.”

Sara, for her part, had filed a COC seeking a fresh term as mayor of Davao City. She said she would not seek the presidency.

The substitution game was used by Duterte’s camp before the 2016 elections. He substituted a proxy fielded by PDP-Laban.

Under the present election law, the Commission on Elections has to wait until the Nov. 15 substitution deadline before finalizing the list of candidates even if the COC filing period has ended last Oct. 8.

Rodriguez said “it is lamentable that for the May 2022 elections, certain candidates for the presidency are perceived to be proxies for some personalities, even if they can be considered as serious aspirants.”

“A candidate would not agree to be a proxy for a dawdling, wavering or indecisive aspirant if he would have to give up his office. The resignation requirement would apply to all levels, national or local, whether aiming for higher or lower positions,” Rodriguez said.

This remains to be seen, though: Whether Rodriguez would push through with the filing of his promised bills. And if he would, the road to passing bills into law is arduous as Congress is dominated by traditional politicians who lack ideologies and constantly switch parties.

Holding the highest office of the land is a serious business. Every six years, the country chooses a new chief executive as mandated by the 1987 Constitution from a pool of aspirants. In turn, the aspirants must be earnest in their intention to run the country.

The executive branch is not an office for a flippant leader. Politicians, like Bato, who already filed their COCs and expressed their willingness to be substituted on or before Nov. 15 are a joke, nuisance. They do not deserve to hold any public office. They deserve nothing but mockery.