Philippine Election Lawyers

Philippine election lawyers normally render service to the client by seeing to it that the candidate’s actions are well within the ambit of law. In addition, Philippine election lawyers ensure that before, during and after the election process, the candidate’s legal rights are protected.

Furthermore, during the counting and canvassing of votes, Philippine election lawyers play huge roles in upholding the sanctity of the ballot box and the true vote of the people. Thereafter, Philippine election lawyers may file protests or cases against erring individuals for irregularities in the casting, counting and canvassing of votes. The usual disputes in Philippine election law pertain to pre-proclamation controversies and election protests.

Nicolas & De Vega Law Offices is a full-service law firm in the Philippines with Philippine election lawyers, attorneys and experts. Our office is located at the 16th Flr., Suite 1607 AIC Burgundy Empire Tower, ADB Ave., Ortigas Center, Pasig City, Metro Manila, Philippines. If you are in need of a Philippine election lawyer, please feel free to e-mail us at info@ndvlaw.com or call us at +632 84706130 or visit our website www.ndvlaw.com. 

ABOUT PHILIPPINE ELECTIONS

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Batas Pambansa Blg. 881, otherwise known as the Omnibus Election Code is the basic law on Philippine elections. While legislations have been enacted every time an election is scheduled, the Omnibus Election Code remains the fundamental law on Philippine Election law.

Other Pertinent laws on Election:
1. Republic Act No. 9189 or the Overseas Absentee Voting Act of 2003
2. Republic Act No. 8189, otherwise known as the Voter’s Registration Act of 1996
3. Republic Act No. 7941, otherwise known as the Party List System Act
4. Republic Act No. 9006, otherwise known as the Fair Election Act
5. Republic Act No. 6646, otherwise known as the Electoral Reform Law of 1987
6. Republic Act No. 7166, providing for Synchronized National and Local Elections
7. Republic Act No. 8436, as Act Authorizing the COMELEC to use Automated Election System
8. Republic Act No. 9369, otherwise known as the Election Modernization Act

The Election period in the Philippines commences 90 days before the day of the election and shall end 30 days thereafter.

As for the Campaign period in the Philippines, it will vary depending on the position reckoned from the day before the actual election day as follows:
1. Presidential and Vice- Pres, Senators elections---90 days
2. Congressmen and local election--- 45 days
3. Barangay election--- 15 days.
4. Special election--- 45 days

The Campaign period is important because certain partisan political activities are prohibited outside the campaign period. 

Batas Pambansa Blg. 881, otherwise known as the Omnibus Election Code is the basic law on Philippine elections. While legislations have been enacted every time an election is scheduled, the Omnibus Election Code remains the fundamental law on Philippine Election law.

Other Pertinent laws on Election:
1. Republic Act No. 9189 or the Overseas Absentee Voting Act of 2003
2. Republic Act No. 8189, otherwise known as the Voter’s Registration Act of 1996
3. Republic Act No. 7941, otherwise known as the Party List System Act
4. Republic Act No. 9006, otherwise known as the Fair Election Act
5. Republic Act No. 6646, otherwise known as the Electoral Reform Law of 1987
6. Republic Act No. 7166, providing for Synchronized National and Local Elections
7. Republic Act No. 8436, as Act Authorizing the COMELEC to use Automated Election System
8. Republic Act No. 9369, otherwise known as the Election Modernization Act

The Election period in the Philippines commences 90 days before the day of the election and shall end 30 days thereafter.

As for the Campaign period in the Philippines, it will vary depending on the position reckoned from the day before the actual election day as follows:
1. Presidential and Vice- Pres, Senators elections---90 days
2. Congressmen and local election--- 45 days
3. Barangay election--- 15 days.
4. Special election--- 45 days

The Campaign period is important because certain partisan political activities are prohibited outside the campaign period. 

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PHILIPPINE ELECTION LAWYERS

At Nicolas & De Vega Law Offices, our Philippine election lawyers possess extensive experience in assisting hopeful politicians and incumbent local elective officials before, during and after campaign and elections, which include among others, services during pre-election, counting of ballots, canvassing, representation in pre-proclamation controversies, election protests and quo warranto proceedings. In order to ensure that our clients are assured of clean, honest and fair elections, our Philippine election lawyers conduct seminars for the candidate’s watchers and campaign staff to brief them on election law and policies. Our Philippine election lawyers work round the clock during critical periods of the campaign and election day to give our clients the competitive legal edge to win.

The First Chairman of our Philippine Election law Department is Atty. Nikki De Vega, who is a professor of law in the subjects of political, administrative, constitutional, international and election law. On the other hand, Atty. Krisanto Karlo Nicolas sits as Second Chairman. 


Atty. Norieva "Nikki" D. de Vega - Senior Partner, Philippine Election Lawyer

Atty. Norieva "Nikki" de Vega obtained her Juris Doctor degree in Law from the Ateneo de Manila University School of Law where she graduated Class Salutatorian. She also received the Silver Medal Second Honors award. Moreover, she was bestowed the Silver Medal for Academic Excellence for her achievements in the field of academics. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration from the University of the Philippines in Diliman.

Atty. De Vega is a law professor at the Far Eastern University Institute of Law where she teaches Constitutional Law Review to graduating law students. Constitutional Law is a compendium of law subjects namely administrative, constitutional, election, local government, public officers and international law. She is also a thesis/dissertation defense panelist.
In addition to teaching, Atty. De Vega is a broadcaster and hosts a radio show entitled "Ang Buhay at Batas" aired every Tuesday from 12:30 noon to 1:30 p.m. at DZRJ 810 AM.

Atty. De Vega has handled countless of election law cases for Philippine politicians holding various elective positions.

Atty. Krisanto Karlo E. Nicolas - Senior Partner, Philippine Election Lawyer


Atty. Krisanto Karlo Nicolas, one of the Founding Partners, obtained his Juris Doctor degree in Law from the Ateneo de Manila University School of Law, where he graduated with Honors and was awarded the Silver Medal Second Honors award. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration from the University of the Philippines in Diliman.

Atty. Nicolas is a co-host of the radio program "Ang Buhay at Batas"  aired at DZRJ 810AM.

Atty. Nicolas specializes in administrative, civil and criminal litigation. He is an experienced litigator, having handled countless civil, criminal and administrative cases before various courts and quasi-judicial tribunals in the country.

Visit our website www.ndvlaw.com to learn more about our Philippine election lawyers, paralegal and staff.



PHILIPPINE ELECTION INFORMATION

The information provided in this website should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. This is for information purposes only and is not intended to solicit or create, and does not create, an attorney-client relationship between NDV Law and any person or entity. Please consult with a lawyer about your concerns. 

More information can be viewed at www.ndvlaw.com

Qualifications prescribed by law for public elective positions in the Philippines are continuing requirements and must be possessed for the duration of the officer’s active tenure. It is the Philippine Congress which has the power to prescribe additional qualifications and disqualifications.

The following is a simple list of the pertinent qualifications required for public elective positions in the Philippines:

Qualification for President and VP
1. natural born citizen of the Philippines
2. registered voter
3. able to read and write
4. at least 40 years of age on the day of election
5. resident of the Philippines for at least 10 years immediately preceding the election.

Qualifications for Senators
1. natural born citizen of the Philippines
2. at least 35 years old on the day of the election
3. able to read and write
4. registered voter
5. resident of the Philippines for not less than 2 years immediately preceding the day of the election

Qualification for District Representative:
1. natural born citizen of the Philippines
2. on the day of the election at least 25 years old
3. able to read and write
4. registered voter in the district in which he shall be elected
5. resident thereof a period of not less than 1 year immediately preceding the day of the election.

Qualification for Sectoral representative
1. natural born citizen of the Philippines
2. able to read and write
3. resident of the Philippines for a period not less than 1 year immediately preceeding the ay of the election
4. member of the sector he seeks to represent (must belong to their respective sectors, or must have a track record of advocacy for their respective sectors)
5. on the day of the election is at least 25 years old BUT in case of youth sectoral representative, at least 25 years and not more than 25 years old at the day of the election

Qualifications for Local Officials:
1. citizen of the Philippines
2. on the day of election at least 23 years old for Governor, Vice-Governor, member of sangguniang panlalawigan, mayor, vice-mayor, sangguniang panglungsond in highly urbanized cities; while at least 21 years old for the said officials in component cities and municipalities; at least 18 years old for members of the sangguniang panglungsod, sangguniang bayan and sangguniang barangay and punong barangay; at least 15 years old and not more than 21 years of age for Sangguniang kabataan.
3. able to read and write Filipino or any other local language or dialect
4. registered voter in the constituency in the locality
5. resident thereof for a period of not less than 1 year immediately preceding the day of the election 

The aggregate amount that a candidate or registered political party may spend for Philippine election campaign are as follows:
a) For candidates – Ten pesos (P10.00) for President and Vice-President; and for other candidates Three Pesos (P3.00) for every voter currently registered in the constituency where he filed his certificate of candidacy: Provided, that a candidate without any political party and without support from any political party may be allowed to spend Five Pesos (P5.00) for every such voter; and
b) For political parties. – Five (P5.00) for every voter currently registered in the constituency or constituencies where it has official candidates.

Prohibited contributions
No contributions for purposes of partisan political activity shall be made directly or indirectly by any of the following:
1. Public or private financial institutions: Provided however, that nothing herein shall prevent the making of any loan to a candidate or political party by any such public or private financial institutions legally in the business of lending money, and that the loan is made in accordance with laws and regulations and in the ordinary course of business;
2. Natural and juridical persons operating a public utility or in possession of or exploiting any natural resources of the nation;
3. Natural and juridical persons who hold contracts or sub-contracts to supply the government or any of its divisions, subdivisions or instrumentalities, with goods or services or to perform construction or other words;
4. Natural and juridical persons who have been granted franchises, incentives, exemptions, allocations or similar privileges or concessions by the government or any of its divisions, sub-divisions or instrumentalities including government-owned or controlled corporations;
5. Natural and juridical persons who, within one year prior to the date of the election, have been granted loans or other accommodations in excess of P100,000.00 by the government or any of its divisions, subdivisions or instrumentalities including government-owned or controlled corporations;
6. Educational institutions which have received grants of public funds amounting to no less than P100,000.00;
7. Officials or employees in the Civil Service, or members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines; and
8. Foreigners and foreign corporations.

Prohibited Raising of Funds:
1. holding dances, lotteries, cockfights, etc for the purpose of raising funds for an election campaign or for the support of any candidate from the commencement of the election period up to an including election day;
2. soliciting and/or accepting from any candidate for public office, or from his campaign manager, agent or representative, or any person acting in their behalf, any gift, food, transportation, contribution or donation in cash or in kind from the commencement of the election period up to and including election day; Provided, that normal and customary religious stipends, tithes, or collections on Sunday and/or other designated collection days, are excluded from this prohibition.

Allowed/Lawful expenditures for Philippine campaign:
(a) travelling expenses of the candidates and campaign personnel in the course of the campaign and for personal expenses incident thereto;
(b) compensation of campaigners, clerks, stenographers, messengers, and other persons actually employed in the campaign;
(c) telegraph and telephone tolls, postage, freight and express delivery charges;
(d) stationery, printing and distribution of printed matters relative to candidacy;
(e) employment of watchers at the polls;
(f) rent, maintenance and furnishing of campaign headquarters, office or place of meetings;
(g) political meetings and rallies and the use of sound systems, lights and decorations during said meetings and rallies;
(h) newspaper, radio, television and other public advertisements;
(i) employment of counsel, the cost of which shall not be taken into account in determining the amount of expenses which a candidate or political party may have incurred under Section 100 and 101 hereof;
(j) copying and classifying list of voters, investigating and challenging the right to vote of persons registered in the lists the costs of which shall not be taken into account in determining the amount of expenses which a candidate or political party may have incurred under Sections 100 and 101 hereof; or
(k) printing sample ballots in such color, size and maximum number as may be authorized by the Commission and the cost of such printing shall not be taken into account in determining the amount of expenses which a candidate or political party may have incurred under Sections 100 and 101 hereof.

Statement of Contributions and Expenses
Every candidate and treasurer of the political party shall, within thirty (30) days after the day of the election, file in duplicate with the offices of the Comelec the full, true and itemized statement of all contributions and expenditures in connection with the election.  

The election fever has once more hit the Philippines as we brace ourselves for the May 13, 2019 elections. However, it is important to remember that certain acts are prohibited during certain times. Our excitement should not prevent us from acting with utmost cautions to prevent violation of election laws. Pursuant to Comelec Resolution No. 10429 and election laws, here are the important dates concerning the election and campaign period:


13 January 2019 to 12 June 2019 - ELECTION PERIOD
12 February 2019 to 11 May 2019 - CAMPAIGN PERIOD FOR CANDIDATES FOR SENATORS AND PARTY-LIST GROUPS PARTICIPATING IN THE PARTY-LIST SYSTEM OF REPRESENTATION
29 March 2019 to 11 May 2019 - CAMPAIGN PERIOD FOR CANDIDATES FOR DISTRICT REPRESENTATIVES AND ELECTIVE REGIONAL, PROVINCIAL, CITY AND MUNICIPAL OFFICIALS
12 May 2019 - EVE OF ELECTION DAY
13 May 2019 - ELECTION DAY
12 June 2019 – LAST DAY TO FILE SOCE (STATEMENT OF CONTRIBUTIONS AND EXPENSES) BY THE CANDIDATES

Please see below a list of acts prohibited during the election period:
 Bearing of firearms or other deadly weapons (unless authorized by Comelec)
 Suspending elective local officials
 Moving or transferring government employees in the civil service
 Altering territories of precincts
 Use or maintenance of reaction or strike forces
 Use by candidates of bodyguards or security staff (unless authorized by Comelec)


On the other hand, the following are prohibited during the campaign period:

 Committing acts in violation of the use of lawful election paraphernalia
 Committing acts constituting prohibited forms of election propaganda
 Giving of donations, in cash or in kind, by the candidate, his spouse, relative within 2nd degree of consanguinity or affinity, his campaign manager, agent or representative
 Use of the candidates of special policemen and confidential agents
 Construction of public works and the like by the candidate
 Appointing or hiring new employees or promoting employees by the candidate
 Releasing and disbursing public funds by the candidates
It must be emphasized that campaigning is prohibited on 28 March 2019 (Holy Thursday) and 29 March 2019 (Good Friday).

The following acts are prohibited on 12 May 2019 or the eve of election day:
 Campaigning
 Giving or accepting free transportation, food, drinks or anything of value from a candidate or his representatives
 Selling, buying or taking intoxicating liquor

During election day, or on 13 May 2019, the following acts are prohibited:
 Campaigning
 Giving or accepting free transportation, food, drinks or anything of value from a candidate or his representatives
 Selling, buying or taking intoxicating liquor
 Buying or selling votes
 Voting more than once
 Soliciting votes for or against a candidate in the polling place and within 30 meters thereof
 Selling of food and drinks and opening stall or booths in the polling place and within 30 meters thereof
 Holding of fairs, cockfights, boxing, horse races, jai-alai or similar sports


Violation of the prohibited acts enumerated above are considered as election offenses which are punishable by imprisonment of not less than one year and not more than six years, without probation.

Act and vote wisely this May 13, 2019! 

The importance of a valid certificate of candidacy rests at the very core of the electoral process. (Bautista vs. Comelec, G.R. No. 154796, 23 October 2003) As such, a person with a cancelled certificate is no candidate at all. The evident purposes of the law in requiring the filling of certificates of candidacy and in fixing a time limit therefor are (a) to enable the voter to know, at least sixty days before a regular election the candidate among whom they are to make the choice, and (b) to avoid confusion and inconvenience in the tabulation of the votes cast; for if the law did not confine the choice or election by the voter to duly registered candidates, there might be as many person voted for as there were voters, and votes might be cast even for unknown or fictitious person as a mark to identify the votes in favor of a candidate for another office in the same election. (Monsale vs. Nico, G.R. No. L-2539, 28 May 1949)

In Sinaca vs. Mula (373 SCRA 896), the Supreme Court had the occasion to define a certificate of candidacy (COC) as follows:

“A certificate of candidacy is in the nature of a formal manifestation to the whole world of the candidate's political creed or lack of political creed. It is a statement of a person seeking to run for a public office certifying that he announces his candidacy for the office mentioned and that he is eligible for the office, the name of the political party to which he belongs, if he belongs to any, and his post-office address for all election purposes being as well stated.”

Section 73 of Batas Pambansa Bilang 881, otherwise known as the Omnibus Election Code, enunciates that no person shall be eligible for any elective public office unless he files a sworn certificate of candidacy within a fixed period. Generally, the COC must be filed on any day from the commencement of the election period but not later than the day before the beginning of the campaign period. However, the Commission on Election (Comelec) is vested with the power to set or extend the deadline to file a COC.

As to the contents of the COC, Section 74 of the Omnibus Election Code is instructive, to wit:

“Sec. 74. Contents of certificate of candidacy. - The certificate of candidacy shall state that the person filing it is announcing his candidacy for the office stated therein and that he is eligible for said office; if for Member of the Batasang Pambansa, the province, including its component cities, highly urbanized city or district or sector which he seeks to represent; the political party to which he belongs; civil status; his date of birth; residence; his post office address for all election purposes; his profession or occupation; that he will support and defend the Constitution of the Philippines and will maintain true faith and allegiance thereto; that he will obey the laws, legal orders, and decrees promulgated by the duly constituted authorities; that he is not a permanent resident or immigrant to a foreign country; that the obligation imposed by his oath is assumed voluntarily, without mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that the facts stated in the certificate of candidacy are true to the best of his knowledge.

Unless a candidate has officially changed his name through a court approved proceeding, a certificate shall use in a certificate of candidacy the name by which he has been baptized, or if has not been baptized in any church or religion, the name registered in the office of the local civil registrar or any other name allowed under the provisions of existing law or, in the case of a Muslim, his Hadji name after performing the prescribed religious pilgrimage: Provided, That when there are two or more candidates for an office with the same name and surname, each candidate, upon being made aware or such fact, shall state his paternal and maternal surname, except the incumbent who may continue to use the name and surname stated in his certificate of candidacy when he was elected. He may also include one nickname or stage name by which he is generally or popularly known in the locality.

The person filing a certificate of candidacy shall also affix his latest photograph, passport size; a statement in duplicate containing his bio-data and program of government not exceeding one hundred words, if he so desires.”

Section 16 of Comelec Resolution No. 10420 (promulgated 07 September 2018) provides that the COC shall be under oath and shall state:

a. office aspired for;
b. name of the aspirant;
c. age;
d. gender;
e. civil status;
f. place and date of birth;
g. citizenship, whether natural-born or naturalized;
h. the duly registered PP of Coalition to which the aspirant belongs, if any;
i. if married, the name of the spouse;
j. complete address for election purposes;
k. legal residence, giving the exact address and the number of years residing in:
(i) the Philippines and whenever applicable,
(ii) the place where the aspirant intends to be elected up to the day before the election;
l. the barangay, city or municipality and province where the aspirant is a registered voter or will be a registered voter;
m. profession or occupation or employment;
n. that the aspirant is eligible for said office;
o. that the aspirant is not a permanent resident or an immigrant for a foreign country;
p. that the aspirant has executed a sworn renunciation of foreign citizenship; (if applicable)
q. that the aspirant will file, with the Commission, within 30 days after Election Day, a full, true and itemized Statement of Contributions and Expenditures (SOCE) in connection with the election;
r. that the aspirant will support and defend the Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines and will maintain true faith and allegiance thereto;
s. that the aspirant will obey the laws, legal orders, decrees, resolutions, rules and regulations promulgated and issued by the duly constituted authorities;
t. that the aspirant assumes the foregoing obligations voluntarily without mental reservation or purpose of evasion;
u. that the aspirant gives consent to the processing of the information stated herein by the Commission on Elections for election and other purposes as may be provided by law, such as B.P. Blg. 881 and R.A. No. 10173 also known as the Data Privacy Act of 2012, among others; and
v. that the facts stated in the certificate are true and correct to the best of the aspirant’s knowledge.

The candidate must state therein his name as registered in the Office of the Local Civil Registrar or the name by which he has been baptized. He may include one nickname or stage name. Married females may use either their maiden name, married name or both.

The COC must be under oath. However, the election of a candidate cannot be annulled on the formal defect of lack of oath. (De Guzman vs. Board of Canvassers, 48 Phil 211)

It is worth noting that appointive officials who file their COCs are deemed resigned. This rule does not apply to elective officials, who continue to hold office even if they have filed their COCs. As held in Farinas vs. Executive Secretary (G.R. No. 147387, 10 December 2003), and further echoed in Quinto vs. Comelec (G.R. No. 189698, 22 February 2010), the legal dichotomy created by the Legislature is a reasonable classification, as there are material and significant distinctions between appointive and elected officials. Elected officials occupy their office by virtue of the mandate of the electorate, elected to an office for a definite term and may be removed therefrom only upon stringent conditions. On the other hand, appointive officials hold their office by virtue of their designation thereto by an appointing authority and are strictly prohibited from engaging in any partisan political activity. 

The information provided by a candidate in his Certificate of Candidacy (COC) cannot be taken lightly. Should a candidate make false statements of a material representation in the COC, his COC may be cancelled or denied due course. Section 78 of Batas Pambansa Bilang 881, otherwise known as the Omnibus Election Code, provides the remedy of filing a verified petition to deny due course or to cancel a COC on the ground that any material representation contained in the COC is false. The denial of due course to or the cancellation of the COC is not based on the lack of qualifications but on a finding that the candidate made a material representation that is false, which may relate to the qualifications required of the public office he/she is running for. (Tagolino vs. HRET, G.R. No. 202202, 19 March 2013)

It must be emphasized that not all matters stated in the COC are considered material to warrant the invocation of a Section 78 petition. The material misrepresentation referred to in Section 78 of the Omnibus Election Code pertains to qualifications for elective office. The misrepresentation must be material, i.e. misrepresentation regarding age, residence and citizenship or non-possession of natural-born Filipino status. (Gonzalez vs. Comelec, G.R. No. 192856, 8 March 2011). Thus, the COC of a former Filipino citizen who failed to reacquire her Filipino citizenship under Republic Act 9225 can be cancelled for failure to meet the citizenship and residency requirements. (Ongsiako Reyes vs. Comelec, G.R. No. 207264) Similarly, the candidate's status as a registered voter falls under this classification as it is a legal requirement which must be reflected in the COC. (Hayudini vs. Comelec, G.R. No. 207900, 12 April 2014). Furthermore, as held in Talaga vs. Comelec (G.R. No. 196804, 9 October 2012), violation of the three-term limit by a local official candidate can be questioned by filing a petition to deny due course or cancel COC.

On the other hand, statements that do not refer to the qualifications of a candidate cannot warrant the invocation of Section 78. Wrong entries as to the profession of a candidate is not considered a valid ground to cancel a COC. Thus, a declaration by a candidate for punong barangay in his COC that he was a Certified Public Accountant, but in fact was not, is NOT a ground to cancel the COC because profession is not a qualification for elective office and therefore not a material fact. (Lluz v. Comelec, 523 SCRA 456.) Further, the use of a name other than that stated in the certificate of birth is not a material misrepresentation. (Villafuerte vs. Comelec, G.R. No. 206698, 25 February 2014).

Aside from the requirement of materiality, a false representation under Section 78 must consist of a "deliberate attempt to mislead, misinform, or hide a fact which would otherwise render a candidate ineligible." In other words, it must be made with an intention to deceive the electorate as to one’s qualifications for public office. The use of surname, when not intended to mislead, or deceive the public as to one's identity is not within the scope of the provision. (Villafuerte vs. Comelec, G.R. No. 206698, 25 February 2014).

The petition to deny due course or cancel COC must be filed within five days from the last day of the filing of the COC, but not later than 25 days from the filing thereof. It must be lodged with the Comelec in division. (Ibrahim vs. Comelec, G.R. No. 192289, 08 January 2013). However, when the ground for the petition to deny due course or cancel COC is based on a candidate’s final conviction of a crime, Comelec en banc may assume jurisdiction since it is subsumed under the Comelec’s mandate duty to enforce and administer election laws in cancelling the COC on the basis of the candidate’s perpetual absolute disqualification, the fact of which had already been established by his final conviction. As this pertains to the Comelec’s administrative functions, Comelec en banc will exercise jurisdiction over the said petition. (Jalosjos vs. Comelec, G.R. No. 205033, 18 June 2013)

The person whose certificate is cancelled or denied due course under Section 78 is not treated as a candidate at all, as if he never filed a COC. (Munder vs. Comelec, G.R. No. 194076, 19 October 2011). It should be clear, too, that a candidate who does not file a valid COC may not be validly substituted, because a person without a valid COC is not considered a candidate in much the same way as any person who has not filed a CoC is not at all a candidate. (Miranda v. Abaya, G.R. No. 136351, 28 July 1999) A cancelled certificate of candidacy void ab initio cannot give rise to a valid candidacy, and much less to valid votes. (Tea vs. Comelec, G.R. No. 195229, 9 October 2012) Therefore, votes cast in favor of a candidate whose COC was cancelled either before or after the elections, are considered as stray votes. Being stray votes, should the candidate whose COC was cancelled garner the highest number of votes, he cannot be proclaimed as the winner. It shall be the candidate who garnered the second highest number of votes who will be declared victorious. 

Candidates for elective offices can be substituted. Pursuant to Section 77 of Batas Pambansa Bilang 881, otherwise known as the Omnibus Election Code, substitution of candidates is allowed only in cases of death, withdrawal or disqualification of the original candidate. In cases of death or disqualification, the substitute may file his Certificate of Candidacy up to mid-day of election day. However, in cases of withdrawal, the substitute can only file his Certificate of Candidacy within the period fixed by Comelec. As held in Federico vs. Comelec (G.R. No. 199612, 22 January 2013), the reason for the distinction can easily be divined. Unlike death or disqualification, withdrawal is voluntary. Generally, a candidate has sufficient time to ponder on his candidacy and to withdraw while the printing has not yet started. If a candidate withdraws after the printing, the name of the substitute candidate can no longer be accommodated in the ballot and a vote for the substitute will just be wasted. Consequently, a substitute (due to the withdrawal of the original candidate) who files his Certificate of Candidacy beyond the deadline fixed by Comelec, shall not be considered a valid candidate.

There are limitations to substitution. It is not allowed for independent candidates. However, despite lack of political affiliations, substitution is allowed for barangay candidates. (Rulloda vs. Comelec, G.R. No. 154198, 20 January 2003) Further, only a person belonging to and certified by the same political party of the original candidate can be a substitute. Even if the substitute only became a member of the same political party of the original candidate after the latter’s death, withdrawal or disqualification, the same is allowed and the substitution will be upheld. There is nothing in the Constitution or the statute which requires as a condition precedent that a substitute candidate must have been a member of the party concerned for a certain period of time before he can be nominated as such. (Sinaca vs. Mula, G.R. No. 135691, 27 September 1999) In addition, pursuant to Comelec Resolution No. 10430 (promulgated 01 October 2018), the substitute for a candidate who died or was disqualified by final judgement, may file a Certificate of Candidacy up to mid-day of election day provided that the substitute and the substituted have the same surnames.

In Luna vs. Comelec (G.R. No. 165983, 24 April 2007), the Supreme Court struck down the order of Comelec in invalidating the substitution done grounded on the withdrawal by the original candidate for the latter’s failure to meet the age requirement. In the absence of a petition to deny due course or cancel the Certificate of Candidacy, the Comelec cannot declare the original candidate, being under age, to not have filed a valid certificate of candidacy and thus could not be substituted. In such case, the Supreme Court upheld the substitution.

In case of valid substitutions, votes cast for substituted candidates are considered stray, except if the substitute candidate has the same surname. It must be borne in mind that if a person’s Certificate of Candidacy has been denied due course and/or cancelled pursuant to Section 78 of the Omnibus Election Code, he cannot be validly substituted since a person whose certificate is cancelled or denied due course under Section 78 is not treated as a candidate at all. (Tagolino vs. HRET, G.R. No. 202202, 19 March 2013) A cancelled certificate of candidacy void ab initio cannot give rise to a valid candidacy, and much less to valid votes. (Tea vs. Comelec, G.R. No. 195229, 9 October 2012) Therefore, votes cast in favor of a candidate whose COC was cancelled either before or after the elections, are considered as stray votes. Being stray votes, should the candidate whose COC was cancelled garner the highest number of votes, he cannot be proclaimed as the winner. It shall be the candidate who garnered the second highest number of votes who will be declared victorious.

Finally, the filing of a withdrawal shall not affect the civil, criminal or administrative liabilities the substituted candidate may have already incurred. 

Mobirise

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