The 10th month of the year marks the beginning of the roller coaster ride of the whole country. Filipinos who wish to become one of the constitutional officers line up at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to file their Certificate of Candidacy (COC).
The Comelec accepted COCs for the 2016 elections from Oct. 12 to 16. One hundred thirty filed the COC for president, 19 for vice-president and 143 senator.
However at the end, the Comelec have already weeded out almost half of these candidates and allowed the selected few to continue running for their selected post.
This has only been the start of the so-called election serye in the country.
Around 100 million Filipinos sat in front of the television or scrolled for the latest news, as Archangel Lucifer, Intergalactic Earth Ambassador Allan Carreon, and the rest of the labeled ‘nuisance candidates’ share their platforms to their fellow Pinoys.
A nuisance candidate, as defined by the Omnibus Election Code, is someone who files a COC “to put the election process in mockery or disrepute or to cause confusion among the voters by the similarity of the names of the registered candidates or by other circumstances or acts which clearly demonstrate that the candidate has no bona fide intention to run for the office for which the certificate of candidacy has been filed, and thus prevent a faithful determination of the true will of the electorate.”
Cited in news reports, Arturo Pacheco Reyes, one of the said candidates, said that he wants to lead “an exodus to the promised land of tomorrow.”
He also proposed a law to have the four seasons of winter, spring, summer, and fall in the Philippines.
According to reports, the Comelec disqualifies these nuisance bets even as the Constitution mandates “equal access to opportunities for public service.” This is because, according to the Supreme Court, running for public office is a privilege, not a right.
Common qualification requirements
How does one become eligible to become an elected officer?
Under the 1987 Philippine Constitution, one must meet the following requirements to be able to run for an electoral office. Dannug and Campanilla laid down the following common qualifications of the candidates in their book, Politics, Governance and Government with Philippine Constitution.
First common ground is the citizenship. Natural-born citizenship is a common qualification requirement to become President, Vice-President, Senator, Congressman, Party-list Representative and member of the judiciary.
As stated in Article IV of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, natural-born citizens are those who are citizens of the Philippines from birth without having to perform any act to acquire of perfect their Philippine citizenship.
Second requirement is the age. There is a specific age requirement for constitutional officers. For the President and Vice-President: 45 years; Senators: 35 years; Members of the House of Representatives: 25 years.
Third requirement is being a registered voter. Elective constitutional officers as a general rule must be registered voters. A candidate for President, Vice-President and Senator may be registered voter in any district in the Philippines, a candidate for Congressman of the House of Representatives must be a registered voter in the district in which he or she shall be elected.
Fourth requirement is the residency. For the President and Vice-President: 10 years immediately preceding the election; Senator: two years immediately preceding the day of the election; Congressman: a resident of the district he or she shall be elected for a period of not less than 1 year immediately preceding the day of the election.
The last requirement pertains with respect to legislative and executive offices, the minimum education requirement for candidates thereof is that they are “able to read and write.”
Read, write: is it enough?
Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, one of the presidential candidates of the upcoming elections, expressed that a college degree should be a requirement enshrined in the Constitution for elected officials.
In one of the reports published by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Santiago, a constitutional law expert, said, “We should professionalize important local and national offices by imposing academic qualifications.”
Santiago said that requiring leaders to have college degrees would help the country compete on the international level.
“If we want global competitiveness, we should require our leaders to be, at the very least, formally educated. This is because education is a powerful constraint against narrow parochialism and a gateway to ideas that can change communities,” Santiago said in the same report.
However, President Benigno Aquino III, stated before that changing the Constitution was not a priority of his administration even though it was the proper time for Charter Change (Cha-Cha) or Constitutional reform.
Santiago also added that Aquino has good reasons not to prioritize charter change, because the estimate cost of a constitutional convention is around P8 billion.
Social media, tale of drama
People know that the election time nears when they start to hear that catchy advertisement or even the jingles over the radio or television. Some could still vividly remember the catch phrase “Pichay, itanim sa senado”, or the catchy tune “Nakaligo ka na ba sa dagat ng basura?”
However, the times are changing. The traditional ads still play a major role, but social media as a new medium has emerged to become so powerful. It has started to shape the image of the candidates and even influence the decisions of the voters.
Over the past weeks, different issues have been clamoring over the social media sites. Facebook post about the Dutertards, a term coined by Carlos Celdran, has been circulating over the web. The Duterte supporters seemed insulted and countered Celdran.
The public also witnessed the arguments from Gab Valenciano who claimed he could not support Duterte over his questionable morale. There also goes Mar Roxas targeting the image of Davao City, saying it is a myth.
There are heated arguments in the comment section in Facebook, catcalling over tweets and tale of drama in online news sites unfolds every day.
Social media is a game changer in this election. As stated in a Rappler report, Maria Ressa, Rappler’s CEO and executive director, “It will be the first social media elections,” Ressa told the audience of a #PHVote event in Davao.
“And these elections will change our lives. It may not seem that way, but they will,” she said.
The elections may still be months away, but the rivalry between different aspirants is slowly increasing. However, they may invest all their money in the campaigns, but the answer still lies in the hands of the Filipino citizens.
Raymond Cruz, a taxi driver in Manila, said he will vote for Duterte and Marcos for the coming elections.
“I believe the two candidates are good leaders and they will help for the improvement of the country,” he said in Tagalog.
On the other hand, Karlo Puerto, a college student, said he is not yet sure who to vote this coming election.
“I will not decide yet as I am still waiting for the result of the debate of the aspirants. The debates will be a good way to measure the competency of the candidates,” he said in vernacular.