Can placeholders be declared nuisance bets? Comelec says no

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 13) — There is "insufficient" basis to declare confessed placeholders as nuisance candidates, Commission on Elections (Comelec) Spokesperson James Jimenez said Wednesday after some parties admitted fielding proxy bets.

"A mere declaration to the contrary [would not], in my opinion, be sufficient to overcome the intention to run, which is manifested in the verified COC (certificate of candidacy)," Jimenez told reporters.

"The lack of a bona fide intention to run needs to be proven," he said.

Earlier, former Comelec commissioner Luie Guia pointed this out in an interview with CNN Philippines.

"There [have] to be proceedings that might, you know, consider an allegation that these candidates ay walang bona fide intention or ang purpose niya lang gawing mockery 'yung electoral process (has no bona fide intention or is purposely making a mockery of the electoral process)," he said.

But Guia stressed if there's any proof a candidate has no "good faith intention" to run, they could be declared nuisance candidates.

This is in light of calls for the removal of the substitution option for political parties.

House Deputy Speaker and Cagayan de Oro 2nd District Rep. Rufus Rodriguez proposed that the Comelec prohibit the substitution of candidates, if not for death or disqualification.

He also pushed for the restoration of the rule mandating aspirants to resign or be deemed automatically resigned from their current local or national posts upon the filing of their candidacies.

READ: House leader bats for removal of substitution scheme

Reacting to Rodriguez's appeal, Jimenez said: "The Comelec will give its official position on the proposed legislation when we are officially furnished with a copy of the said proposal."

Lawmakers in the Senate have also joined the calls for the amendment of the Omnibus Election Code.

Senate President Tito Sotto said the provision, which allows substitution upon the withdrawal of a candidate, is being "abused" and should be "removed completely."

Senator Koko Pimentel made the same statement, stressing substitution should only be done for serious contingencies and not to field a "fake candidate" as part of political strategy.

Sen. Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa, who is running for president under the Cusi wing of the PDP-Laban, has personally admitted he wants Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte to run and replace him.

Speculations that he was just a "proxy" rose even more after he revealed he was only tapped by the ruling party at the last minute.

READ: Asked to file candidacy 2 hours before deadline, Bato says substitution in back of mind

Meanwhile, Lakas-CMD Secretary General Prospero Pichay denied describing the party's presidential and vice presidential candidates as placeholders.

He, however, said they are still open to making Mayor Duterte their substitute standard bearer if she decides to seek the presidency before the November 15 substitution deadline.

The Lakas-CMD has an "informal alliance" with the presidential daughter's Hugpong ng Pagbabago.

CNN Philippines' Correspondent Melissa Lopez contributed to this report.