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;
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.
Pursuant to Section 17 of Comelec Resolution No. 10420, the COC must be filed in the following offices:
1. Senators and Party-List Representatives – Comelec Law Department
2. Members of the House of Representatives for legislative districts in the National Capital Region (NCR) – Office of the Regional Election Director, NCR
3. Members of the House of Representatives for legislative districts in provinces – Office of the Provincial
Election Supervisor concerned
4. Members of the House of Representatives for legislative districts in cities outside the NCR, which comprise one or more legislative districts and City Officials of cities with more than one Election Officer – Office of the City Election Officer concerned designated for the purpose by the Regional Election Director
5. Provincial Officials – Office of the Provincial Election Supervisor
6. City Officials of only one 1 legislative district – Office of the City Election Officer
7. Municipal Officials – Office of the Municipal Election Officer
8. ARMM Governor and Vice-Governor – Office of the ARMM Regional Election Director (Cotabato City, Zamboanga City or Marawi City)
9. Member, Regional Legislative Assembly, ARMM – Office of the ARMM Provincial Election Supervisor concerned
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.
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