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Being ‘unpopular’ not basis to be declared nuisance bet

The Supreme Court nullified a Commission on Elections ruling that canceled a senatorial hopeful’s certificate of candidacy in the May 9 elections for being a nuisance simply because he was “virtually unknown” and lacked the support and funding of a political party.

“Declaring one a nuisance candidate simply because he or she is not known to the entire country reduces the electoral process—a sacred instrument of democracy—to a mere popularity contest,” the Supreme Court said in a press statement released Saturday.

“The matter of the candidate being known (or unknown) should not be taken against the candidate but is best left to the electorate,” it added.

The 20-page decision, despite being moot, was another victory for animal rights advocate Norman Marquez, who was declared a nuisance bet by the Comelec in December 2021.

Marquez won a similar case against the poll body in 2019.

“The attempt of the Comelec to pass off the inability of Marquez to wage an election campaign as an indication of lack of bona fide intent to run for office is unconstitutional and will not be allowed by the court,” the SC said in its decision.

The Comelec Law department had ruled that Marquez filed his COC to put the election process in mockery or disrepute.

It also said Marquez has no bona fide intention to run, is virtually known to the entire country, had not been nominated by any political party, and does not appear to be personally capable of persuading a substantial number of voters.

The Comelec said in its decision then that allowing nuisance candidates would further complicate the election process and added that even without considering financial capacity, Marquez’s circumstances “show being… that he has no capabilities to run a viable campaign.”

The High Court said the grounds for the disqualification of Marquez are “in truth, shrouded property qualifications employed by the Comelec to disqualify an otherwise qualified candidate.”

No law makes it a requirement for persons to be members of a political party before being allowed to run as candidates, the SC said.

“Neither the law nor the election rules impose membership in a political party as a requirement on persons intending to run for public office,” the High Court said.

The Supreme Court noted that it was Marquez’s second time to declare his candidacy and that he exercised utmost vigilance in the protection of his candidacy – availing of judicial remedies in both instances that his COC was canceled by Comelec.

“It is contrary to human experience that a candidate would go through such a rigorous process, not once, but twice, if he or she has actually no intent to run,” the SC said.


Credit belongs to : www.manilastandard.net

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