A SENATOR has filed a bill seeking to penalize nuisance candidates, prompted by a case in the May 2022 elections for a governor in Negros Oriental, where the declared winner was killed in a shooting at his residence in March.    

The proposed measure could potentially defuse political tensions,Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian said in a statement on Wednesday.  

Senate Bill No. 1061 seeks to amend the Omnibus Election Code, which currently does not punish nuisance candidates.   

Section 69 of the code provides that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) can cancel the certificate of candidacy of someone who is proven to have the intention of putting 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.”   

The bill proposes that any person found guilty of being a nuisance candidate will pay a fine of P50,000 as well as be imprisoned for up to six years without a chance for probation.   

This bill seeks to curb the emerging unethical electoral practice of individuals profiting from the elections by using their names or resources with the end goal of abusing the system,Mr. Gatchalian said in the bills explanatory note.  

Comelec Chairman George Erwin M. Garcia told a Senate hearing on Monday that there were 205 nuisance candidates during the 2022 national and local elections.  

A certain Ruel Degamo ran for Negros Oriental governor last year, a position that was eventually awarded to the murdered Roel R. Degamo.   

Comelecs en banc resolution dated Sept. 1, 2022 prompted the transfer of votes from the nuisance candidate Degamo to the late Mr. Degamo, voiding the victory of Pryde Henry A. Teves brother of Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo A. Teves, Jr. as governor.    

Rep. Teves has been linked to the killing of Mr. Degamo.  

Its high time we criminalize nuisance candidacy in order to further protect the integrity of electing public officials and hoping that the process will put an end to political violence in the country,Mr. Gatchalian said. Beatriz Marie D. Cruz