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Nuisance candidates.

At the time of writing, 101 persons have already filed certificates of candidacy (COCs) for the presidency. Most of them are described as "nuisance" or someone without a bonafide intention to run for office; or with intent to make a mockery of the election process; or with the intent of confusing the public by the similarity of names of the registered candidate. Comelec can also declare candidate as nuisance if they cannot prove their capacity to independently wage a national campaign.

How can we explain this increasing "surge" of interest in running for the highest post in the country? Randy David, in a recent column notes that it could be what he describes as the "revenge of cynical reason against the bizarre turns that our political life has taken," citing our practice of electing entire families to public office or of allowing children to succeed their parents or spouses or children.

Some had suggested that we review the criteria in establishing eligibility for office which are: That the candidate must be a natural-born citizen; a registered voter; able to read and write; at least 40 years of age on day of election; and resident of the Philippines at least 10 years immediately preceding the election.

In the United States, he or she must be natural born, 35 years of age, and must be a resident within the US for 14 years. A study had shown that 35 years of age is a requirement in 35 countries and 40 in 7 countries. But in Benin, the maximum age of eligibility is set at 70. All countries have to be citizens, except Jamaica and St. Vincent.

To discourage these so-called "frivolous" candidates, it has been suggested that a candidacy must be sponsored by at least a minimum number of electors within the district or region or the country. For example, in Bulgaria, 15,000 electors must indicate support for a candidate unless the latter is nominated by a registered political party. In Chile, independent candidates must be supported by 0.5 percent of the electorate. In Namibia, independent candidates must be nominated by at least 300 electors from at least 10 regions. In Taiwan, 1.5 percent of the total number of electors is required to show support; in France, the nomination must be supported by at least 500 elected officials, and in Ireland, by 20 members of the Parliament. Established democracies generally impose fewer eligibility requirements.

Except for the Binay-Honasan tandem, most of those who had filed COCs for the presidency were the nuisance types such as Romeo John Reyes with the nickname of Archangel Lucifer who said he was chosen by his "master" to lead the country; an Intergalactic Earth Ambassador, Allan Carria, Alfredo Tindugan, a farmer who is pushing for a "divine" government. A few others had "out of this world" plans for the country. Comelec noted that under our democracy, everyone is allowed to file and will go through hearings where they will be eventually screened. The two other serious tandems - Poe-Escudero and Roxas-Robredo, filed their COCs last Thursday. Indeed, the 2016 election promises to be a remarkable one, starting with the registration of candidates which was accompanied by a lot of fanfare - a fiesta atmosphere, with drums, banners, chants, and placards showing the logos, hymns, and hashtags of the candidates and their parties.

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Title Annotation:Opinions and Editorials
Publication:Manila Bulletin
Date:Oct 16, 2015
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