Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima maintained that no one is exempted from the deadline set by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) for the filing of Certificates of Candidacy (COC) for all elective positions in the 2022 national elections.
De Lima, a former election lawyer, made the statement after the supposedly dominant PDP-Laban party asked COMELEC to reopen the filing of COCs for the 2022 national elections, likewise warned that any attempts to reopen COC filing may result to a “no election scenario” this year.
“The petition of the PDP Laban-Cusi wing to open anew the period for filing COCs reeks of privilege,” she said in her Dispatch from Crame No. 1197.
“The so-called dominant majority party, but without standard bearer candidates for President and Vice President, is basically asking for the exclusive privilege to be exempted from the deadline for filing COCs, after all candidates serious enough to run for election in 2022 have dutifully filed their COCs within the deadline set by the COMELEC.”
“There should be no exemptions from this deadline, not even for the party of the President,” added De Lima.
Reportedly, PDP-Laban wing led by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi filed before the polling body a petition to reopen the period of filing of COCs, saying the Comelec “cannot and should not” proceed with printing of ballots while several cases on candidates and party-lists are still pending.
Two groups claim sole ownership of the party: one faction led by Cusi and another led by presidential aspirant Sen. Manny Pacquiao. The Cusi wing has a pending petition before the COMELEC to declare the Pacquiao faction as “illegitimate.”
Notably, the petition uses as an excuse the pending petitions for the disqualification of Ferdinand Marcos Jr. as well as the appeals for accreditation of party list groups.
The Cusi petition claims that until all these cases are resolved, Comelec should not print ballots for the 2022 elections, and should open the period for filing COCs again.
If the COMELEC waits for all disqualification and accreditation cases to reach final judgment, De Lima stressed that no ballots will ever be printed on time for election day.
“This is because most of these cases usually remain unsettled beyond election day. Besides, the filing of new COCs will again generate another slew of petitions for disqualification. Is Cusi saying we should as well wait for all those cases to be resolved, ad infinitum?” she asked.
“To therefore ask COMELEC to condition the printing of ballots on the final resolution of disqualification cases hews dangerously close to a ‘no election’ scenario. Maybe this is what the Cusi Wing wants all along, for elections to be postponed indefinitely until they get their act together,” she added.
Ultimately, De Lima said “the whole country and its democratic exercises should not bear to suffer the failings of this so-called party of the majority.”
“The holding of constitutionally-mandated elections cannot be left to the inability of any political party to field standard bearers on time. That would be subjecting democratic elections to the whims and caprices of incompetent party leadership. Cusi and the leadership of PDP laban have no one else to blame but themselves,” De Lima said. (30)