Friday, January 15, 2010

10-cornered fight in May

By Sheila Crisostomo
The Philippine Star
Updated January 15, 2010
12:00 AM

Original Story:

MANILA, Philippines - It will now be a 10-cornered fight for the presidency in May as the Commission on Elections (Comelec) yesterday reinstated two aspirants in the official list of candidates.

The Comelec, in Resolution 8743, reconsidered the candidacy of independent Jesus Nicanor Perlas and Vetallano Acosta of the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL).

Perlas is a known environmentalist while Acosta describes himself as a financial consultant.

Acosta listed himself as an independent in his certificate of candidacy but was eventually absorbed by the KBL.

The two presidential aspirants filed a motion for reconsideration appealing Comelec Resolution 8713, which included them among the 91 presidential hopefuls who were disqualified.

The Comelec said Perlas and Acosta were disqualified for failing to show that they are capable of waging a nationwide campaign.

In a 26-page resolution, the Comelec said they were later “convinced” by Perlas that he has the “capacity to launch a nationwide campaign.”

The Comelec noted Perlas has a distinguished track record in public service and has received numerous recognitions for his advocacy even from abroad.

“Also, the manner by which (Perlas) presented his detailed platform of government and his active participation in several fora support his bona fide intention to run for president,” the Comelec said.

Acosta was also declared qualified since he had been nominated by the KBL.

“If the COC (certificate of candidacy) of KBL nominees for vice president and senators were given due course, there is no reason why this Commission should deny due course to Mr. Acosta’s COC,” the resolution said.

Perlas and Acosta will now slug it out with other political heavyweights that include Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III of the Liberal Party (LP), Sen. Manny Villar Jr. of the Nacionalista Party (NP), former President Joseph Estrada of Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) under the United Opposition (UNO), Gilberto Teodoro of Lakas-Kampi-CMD, Sen. Richard Gordon of Bagumbayan party, John Carlos delos Reyes of Ang Kapatiran; and independent Sen. Jamby Madrigal.

The Comelec said the resolution “is without prejudice to the outcome of the disqualification cases” filed against Aquino, Villar, Teodoro and Estrada.

Estrada still included

Comelec Commissioner Rene Sarmiento said the poll body would not likely exclude Estrada from the list of presidential candidates even with a ruling on the former president’s disqualification case.

Sarmiento said the Comelec is expected to come up with a ruling on the disqualification case against Estrada anytime next week or days before the printing of ballots.

“We will have our ruling on the disqualification case out by next week, but we also expect the case to be elevated before the Supreme Court due to constitutional issues,” Sarmiento explained.

“Since the case would still be pending before the High Court by the time of the printing of ballots, we have to include the name of Mr. Estrada in the list of presidential candidates,” Sarmiento added.

Sarmiento pointed out the Comelec cannot exclude Estrada from the list since it might preclude any decision from the Supreme Court.

According to Sarmiento, the Comelec must come out with the list of candidates in the coming elections before the Jan. 25 deadline for the printing of official ballots.

Due to poll automation, Sarmiento said, the Comelec is now required to print all the names of the candidates on the ballots.

The printing of the names of candidates on the ballots is now causing difficulty for the Comelec, particularly in the matter of substitution of candidates, Sarmiento said.

Under the substitution law, an official candidate for national and local positions can be replaced by another member of his or her family in case of death, disqualification and disability.

The replacement would just file a petition before the Comelec anytime until election day.

However, Sarmiento stressed that at this time, the law on substitution cannot be applied in the automated elections.

“There is a pending bill which provides that a vote for the substituted would be considered a vote for the substitute but this is yet to be passed,” Sarmiento pointed out.

Sarmiento urged Congress to pass the proposed measure to enable the poll body to resolve cases of substitution.

“We have so many cases of substitution in the past so we must have a new law on substitution for automated polls,” he said.

More senatorial candidates

Comelec said the vice-presidential candidates still stand at eight.

They are Sen. Manuel “Mar” Roxas of LP; Dominador Chipeco Jr. of Ang Kapatiran; former Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman Bayani Fernando; Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay of PDP-Laban and UNO; Sen. Loren Legarda of Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC); actor Edu Manzano of Lakas-CMD-Kampi; broadcaster Jose Sonza of KBL; and former Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) chairman Perfecto Yasay Jr.

On the other hand, the number of senatorial candidates increased to 62 after the Comelec reconsidered the candidacy of former Scout Ranger commander Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim, former Cebu governor Emilio Mario OsmeƱa, Nanette Espinosa of KBL and Adz Nikabulin, a guest candidate of Bangon Pilipinas.

The resolution showed the national elective positions of president, vice president and senators now have a total of 277 candidates.

Comelec reconsidered Lim by allowing his nomination by the LP as its senatorial candidate.

The former Army general, currently detained after being implicated in the February 2006 coup attempt, stated in his COC that he was running as independent.

Lim supported the Comelec in its decision to include him in the senatorial candidates.

“I knew that entering into this fight would not be easy. I did not suffer any illusions that there would be no opposition to my candidacy. But I have laid my trust in the system and in the law, and on this day, we can see we have trusted well,” Lim said.

Comelec, however, upheld the disqualification of lawyers Oliver Lozano, Elly Velez Pamatong and former Manila congressman Mario Crespo also known as Mark Jimenez.

The Comelec rejected Lozano’s argument that the poll body has no authority to cancel his candidacy.

“He has not satisfactorily shown that he has a bona fide intention to run for the office for which the certificate of candidacy had been filed. (Lozano) has also not shown, among others, that he is capable of waging a nationwide campaign, that he belongs to or has been nominated by any registered political party of national constituency,” the Comelec said.

The Comelec added it could not reconsider Pamatong since his credentials and the documents “were insufficient to show capability to pursue a presidential aspiration stand.”

In the case of Jimenez, Comelec said the former Manila congressman merely attached “numerous newspaper clippings attesting to his financial capacity in waging a nationwide campaign” in his appeal.

The Comelec said newspaper clippings “fail to impress” as “what campaigning requires is a definite political strategy and platforms as to ensure nationwide name retention.”

The disqualified bets have five days to question the Comelec ruling before the Supreme Court. - With Mayen Jaymalin, Aurea Calica

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