This article talks about the effects of the withdrawal of a Certificate of Candidacy. Although the person ceases to be a candidate for the position, the filing of a withdrawal shall not affect the civil, criminal or administrative liabilities he may have already incurred.
A candidate may withdraw his Certificate of Candidacy anytime prior to election.
A Certificate of Candidacy must be filed by a person seeking to run for public office. Generally, the Certificate of Candidacy 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 Certificate of Candidacy.
As with all things, not everything is set in stone. It may happen that a political hopeful may change his mind. If this happens, he could withdraw his Certificate of Candidacy. Section 78 of Batas Pambansa Bilang 881, otherwise known as the Omnibus Election Code (“Election Code”) states that a person who has filed a certificate of candidacy may, prior to the election, withdraw the same by submitting to the office concerned a written declaration under oath.
The affidavit of withdrawal can be filed directly with the main office of the Comelec, the office of the regional election director concerned, the office of the provincial election supervisor of the province to which the municipality involved belongs or the office of the municipal election officer of the said municipality [Hector S. de Leon, The Law on Public Officers and Election Law (2019 ed) p.573]. While it may be true that Section 12 of COMELEC Resolution No. 3253-A, adopted on 20 November 2000, requires that the withdrawal be filed before the election officer of the place where the certificate of candidacy was filed, such requirement is merely directory, and is intended for convenience. It is not mandatory or jurisdictional [Go vs. Comelec, G.R. No. 147741, 10 May 2001].
Effects of Withdrawal of Certificate of Candidacy
Upon withdrawal of the Certificate of Candidacy, the person ceases to be a candidate for the position stated in the Certificate of Candidacy. In fact, he may be substituted by another. However, it bears stressing that there can be no substitution for an independent candidate. Moreover, no person who has withdrawn his candidacy for a position shall be eligible as a substitute candidate for any other position after the deadline for filing of Certificates of Candidacy.
It must be emphasized that the filing of a withdrawal shall not affect the civil, criminal or administrative liabilities the substituted candidate may have already incurred. In a catena of cases, the Supreme Court has upheld the liability of candidates despite their withdrawals of certificates of candidacies. Thus, in Pilar vs. Comelec [G.R. No. 115245, 11 July 1995], the Supreme Court upheld the ruling of the Comelec when it imposed a fine on Pilar for his failure to file his Statement of Contributions and Expenditures despite Pilar’s withdrawal of his certificate of candidacy. The Supreme Court held that it is not improbable that a candidate who withdrew his candidacy has accepted contributions and incurred expenditures, even in the short span of his campaign.
In fact, in Limbona vs. Comelec [G.R. No. 181097, 25 June 2008.], the Supreme Court stressed that the withdrawal of a certificate of candidacy does not necessarily render the certificate void ab initio. Once filed, the permanent legal effects produced thereby remain even if the certificate itself be subsequently withdrawn.
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