This article defines a nuisance candidate as one who puts the election process in mockery, cause confusion among the voters and clearly demonstrate that the candidate has no bona fide intention to run for public office. The Comelec may, motu propio or upon a verified petition (filed within 5 days from the last day for the filing of certificate of candidacy), declare a candidate a nuisance.
A nuisance candidate is one who puts the election process in mockery, cause confusion among the voters and clearly demonstrate that the candidate has no bona fide intention to run for public office
Section 69 of the Omnibus Election Code defines a nuisance candidate as one who files a certificate of candidacy:
- to put the election process in mockery or disrepute; or
- to cause confusion among the voters by the similarity of the names; or
- in other circumstances which clearly demonstrate that the candidate has NO bona fide intention to run for the office and to prevent a faithful determination of the true will of the electorate.
The Comelec may, motu propio or upon a verified petition, declare a candidate a nuisance. A verified petition shall be filed personally or through a duly authorized representative with the COMELEC by any registered candidate for the same office within 5 days from the last day for the filing of certificate of candidacy. The petition should be decided expeditiously such that it is covered by summary proceedings. The decision of the COMELEC shall become final and executory after 5 days from receipt of a copy thereof by parties unless stayed by Supreme Court.
Art. II, Sec. 26 of the Constitution provides that “the State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law”. However, this does not mean that anyone can run for public office. In Pamatong vs. Comelec [G.R. No. 161872, 13 April 2004], the Supreme Court held that running for public office is merely a privilege which is subject to limitations imposed by law, such as the prohibition on nuisance candidates. Thus, the Supreme Court elucidated:
“The rationale behind the prohibition against nuisance candidates and the disqualification of candidates who have not evinced a bona fide intention to run for office is easy to divine. The State has a compelling interest to ensure that its electoral exercises are rational, objective, and orderly. Towards this end, the State takes into account the practical considerations in conducting elections. Inevitably, the greater the number of candidates, the greater the opportunities for logistical confusion, not to mention the increased allocation of time and resources in preparation for the election. These practical difficulties should, of course, never exempt the State from the conduct of a mandated electoral exercise. At the same time, remedial actions should be available to alleviate these logistical hardships, whenever necessary and proper. Ultimately, a disorderly election is not merely a textbook example of inefficiency, but a rot that erodes faith in our democratic institutions.”
A law cannot require candidates to post a surety bond as a condition for running for public office.
Congress cannot arbitrarily impose qualifications on public office. Thus, in Maquera vs. Borra [G.R. No. L-24761, 07 September 1965], the Supreme Court struck down a law which required candidates to post a surety bond as a condition for running for public office. It ratiocinated that ”said property qualifications are inconsistent with the nature and essence of the Republican system ordained in our Constitution and the principle of social justice underlying the same, for said political system is premised upon the tenet that sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them, and this, in turn, implies necessarily that the right to vote and to be voted for shall not be dependent upon the wealth of the individual concerned, whereas social justice presupposes equal opportunity for all, rich and poor alike, and that, accordingly, no person shall, by reason of poverty, be denied the chance to be elected to public office.”
Comelec cannot declare someone a nuisance candidate on the ground of failure to prove financial capacity to sustain the financial rigors of waging a nationwide campaign.
Furthermore, in Marquez vs. Comelec [G.R. No. 244274, 03 September 2019], the Supreme Court declared invalid the act of Comelec in declaring someone a nuisance candidate on the ground of failure to prove financial capacity to sustain the financial rigors of waging a nationwide campaign. It held that nuisance candidates, as an evil to be remedied, do not justify the adoption of measures that would bar poor candidates from running for office.
Effect of Votes in Favor of the Nuisance Candidate
The votes cast for the nuisance candidate must be credited in favor of the legitimate candidate with a similar name to give effect to, rather than frustrate, the will of the voters, even if the declaration of the nuisance candidate became final only after the elections. The crediting of the votes of the nuisance candidate to the legitimate candidate, who have similar names, regardless whether the decision or resolution of the COMELEC became final and executory, shall be done before or after the elections. There is no need for a special proceeding for such crediting [Santos v. Comelec, G.R. No. 235058, 04 September 2018].
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