By JOAHNA LEI E. CASILAO and MA. LEANDRA A. TAMARES
JOURNALISM ALUMNUS and lawyer-educator Angelo De Alban slammed the petition of the Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) law department to declare him a nuisance candidate after his financial capability to mount a nationwide campaign was questioned.
De Alban said the Comelec’s grounds for disqualifying him from next year’s midterm elections have no basis.
“Financial capacity is not one of the grounds to declare a candidate a nuisance. Such ground cited by the law department of Comelec has no basis in law and in the constitution, much less in fact,” De Alban told the Flame in a text message.
In its motu proprio petition seeking to declare De Alban a nuisance candidate, the Comelec argued that “absent clear proof of [De Alban’s] financial capability, [he] will not be able to sustain the financial rigors of waging a nationwide campaign.”
“[H]ow can they say that I have no financial capacity when their only basis is my certificate of candidacy?” De Alban said.
According to the Omnibus Election Code of the Philippines, the Comelec may terminate a candidate’s certificate of candidacy at any time should he or she make a mockery of the election system, confuse the voters through similarity of name with another candidate, or have no good faith in running for office.
In a series of tweets, Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez said on Tuesday that a petition to declare a candidate a “nuisance” gives them an opportunity to prove that they are not.
“Comelec wants to ensure that only candidates with a bona fide intention to run for office end up on the ballot. If you don’t have the resources to campaign, how can you win? If you can’t possibly win, where’s the good faith intent to stand for, and presumably win, [the] election?” he said.
Jimenez also clarified that candidates’ capability to conduct a nationwide campaign is not only determined by money.
“COMELEC doesn’t believe that ‘resources’ only refers to money. There have been a good number of past candidates who explicitly declared themselves not wealthy [and] relied heavily on the support of others. But the existence of such support must be proven, not presumed,” he said.
In his official answer filed on Tuesday, De Alban argued that technological advancements have given him “access to unlimited opportunities,” adding that he commissioned Facebook for a nationwide advertisement from Sept. 27 to Oct. 15.
Should the petition be upheld, De Alban said his camp intends to raise the matter to the Supreme Court. However, he said he still hopes “that Comelec will see reason in [his] answer.”
A tentative list of candidates for next year’s polls from which aspirants can check if their names will appear on the ballot will be released on Nov. 19. The final list will be released by December.
Plans for office
De Alban, who earned his bachelor’s degree in 2002 and co-founded a school for children with special needs, said he seeks to improve laws on education, agriculture, health, and housing.
“Ayusin mo muna ang education mo, ayusin mo muna ang utak ng bata. Ang bansa natin, parang tao yan […] ‘Pag pinondohan mo utak niyan, they grow up [to be] mature, self-sufficient individuals. Ganoon din ang bansa natin,” he said.
Although this is his first time to run for public office, De Alban said he is optimistic yet pragmatic that the economic and political situation of the country will turn good, if not better, after the midterm elections.
“[The voters] now know who are the people who should be held accountable. They now know they have the power to replace them,” he said.
Teodoro Lorenzo Fernandez, a legal management professor in the Faculty and De Alban’s colleague during his days in The Varsitarian, said he is confident in De Alban’s abilities even if he might be unable to run a nationwide campaign.
“Alam naman natin na kung qualified at kung qualified lang, he has all of those and even more. [C]ompare him with others running for senator; they don’t have anything between the ears,” Fernandez told the Flame.
The filing of certificates of candidacy for the May 2019 midterm elections was held from Oct. 11 to 17 and formally closed with 152 senatorial aspirants and 185 partylist candidates. F