Condemn Comelec for disqualifying jury advocates' candidates

Privileged Spits

By TOTO CAUSING

‘Nuisance’ rule is stupid


Shockingly, the Comelec promulgated last December 15 its ruling disqualifying several presidential candidates, vice presidential candidates and senatorial candidates on the ground of being “nuisance” is in itself a king of “nuisance.”

It is stupid, to say aptly.

Among those candidates disqualified by reason of the “nuisance” justification is Atty. Vicente Velasquez, the candidate of the advocates of jury systems in the Philippines. The Jury System is a system of justice where it is the people themselves who shall say who shall be charged in court, arrested, tried and convicted, or be deprived of freehold or property only after having been passed upon by a jury of fellow people.

Two more candidates disqualified on the same reason of “nuisance” by the Comelec are jury advocates’ candidates for Vice-President Tirso N. Paglicawan and for Senator Rudy Dianalan.

Other notable persons who were disqualified for the same “nuisance” reason are senatorial candidate Gen. Danny F. Lim and General Jovito Palparan.

Now, let me argue without fear: “NUISANCE” is stupidity.

Why?

To begin, let me put it straight that the right to be voted upon is a fundamental right. Without this right, there would be no officials who would lead the country. Without this, the people would have no voice or will as to who should lead them. This right is indispensable for what are leaders for when the people do not follow them?
This is expressed in Article V of the Constitution, which reads:

“Section 1. Suffrage may be exercised by all citizens of the Philippines not otherwise disqualified by law, who are at least eighteen years of age, and who shall have resided in the Philippines for at least one year, and in the place wherein they propose to vote, for at least six months immediately preceding the election. No literacy, property, or other substantive requirement shall be imposed on the exercise of suffrage.

“Section 2. The Congress shall provide a system for securing the secrecy and sanctity of the ballot as well as a system for absentee voting by qualified Filipinos abroad.

“The Congress shall also design a procedure for the disabled and the illiterates to vote without the assistance of other persons. Until then, they shall be allowed to vote under existing laws and such rules as the Commission on Elections may promulgate to protect the secrecy of the ballot.”

To restate, the general rule is that each person has that sacred right to run for a public office, including the Office of the President.

The exceptions are those that do not qualify on residency requirement and disqualified by law.

In other words, as to the disqualification it is only a law that can set and not rules or regulations promulgated by the Commission on Elections.

On top of this, there is a higher law, a Constitutional provision that provides for qualifications for the positions of president and vice-president. These qualifications are in effect disqualifications if the qualifications are not met.

Looking at what is the law that provides for disqualifications, there is this Omnibus Election Code that states in its Section 69 as amended by Section 5 of RA 6646.
Section 69 states:

“Nuisance candidates. – The Commission may, motu proprio or upon a verified petition of an interested party, refuse to give due course to or cancel a certificate of candidacy if it is shown that said certificate has been filed 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.”
The limitations provided by the Constitution are found in Sections 2 and 3 of Article VII of the 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, which reads:

“Sec. 2. No person may be elected President unless he is a natural-born citizen of the Philippines, a registered voter, able to read and write, at least forty years of age on the day of the election, and a resident of the Philippines for at least ten years immediately preceding such election.

“Sec. 3. There shall be a Vice-President who shall have the same qualifications and term of office and be elected with and in the same manner as the President. xxx xxx xxx.”

Other than these, there are no other limitations available as to suffrage in the matter of the exercise of the right to be voted upon for the positions of President and Vice-President.


Constitutional
qualifications
are all met


Presidential Candidate Velasquez and Vice-Presidential Candidate Paglicawan possess, like jury advocates’ senatorial bet Rudy Dianalan representing the overseas Filipino workers, General Lim and General Palparan, the met all the qualifications required by the Constitution and they all do not have the disqualification as to age or residency.

All of them are natural-born citizens and at least 40 years old for the President and Vice-President and 35 years old for Senators. All of them are literates and in fact educated. Presidential Candidate Velasquez is a graduate of the University of the Philippines College of Law in 1971. Vice Presidential Candidate Paglicawan is a graduate of Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of the East. Both of them have served the government in appointive capacities.


No evidence their candidacies
will put the election process
in mockery or disrepute


As to the disqualifications of the law, it is also very clear that Presidential Candidate Velasquez and Vice-Presidential Candidate Paglicawan, as well as Senatorial Candidate Rudy Dianalan, do not possess the characters or disabilities or bad records in the past for them to be classified as ones whose candidacies will “put the election process in mockery or disrepute.”

There is also no evidence to show that the candidacies of Velasquez, Paglicawan and Dianalan, as well as Generals Lim and Palparan, will put the election process in mockery or disrepute. As such alone, there is no justification to consider them nuisance candidates.

In filling up the standard form of certificates of candidacies, Velasquez and Paglicawan—as in the cases of Dianalan, Lim, Palparan all other candidates—were not asked to write thereon how they would conduct their campaigns, were not asked to write down how much money do they have for the campaign, or were not asked how many supporters do they have.

The only information that has relevance may be that one they wrote that they are “independents.” But even then, this fact is not an indication at all that they would put the election process in mockery or disrepute.
The Comelec approved the candidacy of Senator Jamby Madrigal as an independent, justifying her past records as having run and won under the opposition ticket in the 2004 elections.
Clearly, the Comelec took judicial notice of Jamby’s past records. Had it only taken judicial notice of the past records of Velasquez, Paglicawan, Dianalan and Lim, it could have known that they have no records of cheating in any election, that they have no record of having been charged with any election-related crimes.


Velasquez and Paglicawan
are not likely to cause election
in mockery or disrepute


Actually, it cannot even be fathomed how one candidate can put the election process in mockery or disrepute other than employing schemes to defraud the electoral process in contemptuous manner, like buying of votes, tampering with election returns similar to the Hello Garci scandal, employing terrorism to win votes or disenfranchise voters, and whatever other dirty tricks.

We have a common ground. Election processes cannot be said to have been made a mockery or placed in disrepute if there is no cause that would prevent the conduct of honest and clean elections.
Some indicators of clean and honest elections are when it can be said that the winners are in truth the winners, that not one vote was not counted, that the results reflect the true will of the voters, and that the people do not doubt the results—unlike the extreme shame that was caused by Hello Garci scandal in the 2004 elections and by the Maguindanao 12-0 votes for administration senatorial candidates in 2007, which all rooted from money.

If we have these as premises, it cannot now be imagined how candidates who are independents can manipulate electoral processes to put it in shame; how these kinds of candidates who have no excess money to pay for buying votes to put the election in disrepute; or how these kinds of candidates can terrorize to put the electoral process in contempt to the whole world.

Candidates Velasquez and Paglicawan have credibility and integrity to say they cannot be a potential cause for making the electoral process a mockery or bring it to disrepute.
This is because their resources are just enough for their national campaign and they do not have excess funds to budget for buying votes; they have no money to hire as many watchers or as many political campaigners as can be done as disguised ways of buying votes; they do not have money to hire goons to terrorize voters like the Ampatuans in Maguindanao.

To the contrary, it cannot be understood why the Commission on Elections have required since time immemorial that the candidates for national positions should be able to have the capacity to mount a national campaign and for this requirement to be complied with it has gone by the parochial thinking that one must have a political party or money if he or she is an independent.

It has been proven since time immemorial that those who give shame to the electoral processes are those who have political parties and machineries, those who have money to buy votes and hire guns and goons to ensure victories, or those who have excess funds to pay for operators of dagdag-bawas.

Yet the Comelec has not learned.

Instead, it has been perpetuating these fraudulent acts by requiring money and party from candidates, subtly labeled as “capacity to mount a campaign.”

These acts have undisputedly brought not only the election process in total disrepute but most importantly the country in disrespect in the eyes of the international community. These acts undisputedly have promoted corruption in the country to the point of no return.

It seems that the Comelec has not learned that no amount of money can buy honor for our country and people after this has been lost by cheating, the biggest of which is the Hello Garci scandal and the 12-0 scam in Maguindanao province, which all rooted from money.

It seems, the Comelec has not done enough to share in the ever-elusive dream of changing the society of corruption and moral degradation that the country has been in.

To the contrary, there is nothing in the Constitution that requires money or party affiliation as a qualification to run for any elective office.

To the contrary, we have been trumpeting one of the basic principles of our Constitution that those who have less in life should have more in law.

To the contrary, to declare one candidate as one whose candidacy will put the election process in disrepute because of poverty is revolting to conscience.

To the contrary, while we have laws against corruption prohibiting public officials from stealing money from the government, the Comelec is encouraging one to be corrupt because it requires financial capability to run a campaign.

Is it not ironic that the Comelec looks at it as perfectly okay—and actually promoting—to see a candidate spending at least Two Billion Pesos for television commercials yet we would curse him to death if we discovered he stole billions of pesos to recover those personal funds spent for the campaign?

Is it not that this perennial requirement of money has brought down the Philippines to pit of debts?
In sum, the Comelec is promoting corruption and disrepute of electoral processes instead of clean and honest elections, which goal can logically be best achieved if only candidates who will be allowed to run are poor.

To the contrary, there is no law that sets a standard or yardstick as to how effective the campaign should be. And if it is so, independent candidates like Velasquez, Paglicawan, Dianalan, Lim and Palparan can indeed mount a national or international campaign by utilizing free services of FACEBOOK, FRIENDSTER, TWITTER, GOOGLE, YAHOO, NING, YOUTUBE, MULTIPLY and many other Internet sites? Has not the Comelec taken judicial notice that the biggest reason for the victory of Barack Hussein Obama is the Internet?

For sure, Velasquez, Paglicawan and Dianalan can organize national networks of campaigners in less than a month from now when national campaign period is yet to begin.

Therefore, by just being independents on the face of their certificates of candidacies, there is no way for the Comelec to pronounce that Presidential Candidate Vicente Velasquez, Vice-Presidential Candidate Tirso Paglicawan, Senatorial Candidate Rudy Dianalan and others as “nuisance.”

Otherwise, the Comelec is making wealth as a de facto qualification cause for anybody who wishes to run for any public office and promoting corruption till eternity.


Velasquez, Paglicawan, Dianalan will not
cause confusion by similarity of names


By reason that there are no other candidates for President or Vice-President that have similar first names or surnames as Velasquez’s, Paglicawan’s, Dianalan’s, Lim’s and Palparan’s, there is no argument that they cannot cause confusion among the voters.


No evidence Velasquez, Paglicawan, Dianalan
have no bona fide intention to run for
President and Vice-President, respectively


Whether a candidate has a bona fide intention to run is a state of the mind. It cannot be seen. It is not tangible. No one can even see or read what is in the mind of one person.
With this, is it not revolting to conscience for the Comelec to rule that candidates Velasquez, Paglicawan, Dianalan, Lim and Palparan have no genuine intention to run for the respective positions the run for?

With only the certificates of candidacies as the basis, how could the Comelec read the mind of the concerned candidates?

With only the certificates of candidacies as the basis, how could the Comelec read the minds of Velasquez, Paglicawan, Dianalan, Lim and Palparan that they do not have bona fide intention to run for the respective positions they run for?

For sure, it is undisputed that there is no evidence for the Comelec to say that Velasquez, Paglicawan, Dianalan, Lim and Palparan have no bona fide intention to run for the offices to which they filed for.
Now, if Velasquez, Paglicawan, Dianalan, Lim and Palparan expressly declare they have that genuine or bona fide intention not only to run for but to win the offices for which they run for, what contrary evidence the Comelec could have presented?

Is it not that the Comelec has the burden of proof to show otherwise?

Actually, by looking alone at the certificates of candidacies, the Comelec has no factual basis to say one candidate has no bona fide intention to run. This is so because there is no question there in the certificate that asks a candidate to declare his intention. To the contrary, there is an oath of allegiance that requires the candidate to pledge loyalty to the flag and country and to defend the laws and the constitution of the Philippines.


Bona fide intention
to run for President
and Vice-President


To the contrary, Velasquez and Paglicawan, as well as Dianalan, do not have only a bona fide intention to run for President, Vice-President and Senator, respectively. In fact, they have the NOBLE intention to run for these positions.

The intention of the two is to realize their platform of changing the fiscal-judge system of justice into one where it is the people who decide who should be charged in court, tried, and convicted or acquitted.

These two candidates have no formal political organizations but they have enough supporters from the Philippines and the Filipinos in the rest of the world who advocate the people’s justice system called Jury Systems.

Velasquez, Paglicawan and Dianalan are resolved in the idea that everything begins from the existence of justice.

Otherwise, there is no justice that can be expected. Under this state, anger, greed, arrogance, chaos and cynicism will reign among the Filipinos and not the rule of law.

A tragic example is the Maguindanao massacre, which is the net result of at least ten years of no justice to all victims.

There in the “Kingdom of the Ampatuans,” it has been said that many ordinary Muslims have been killed for over a decade and no one among them has gotten any justice at all.

This is because the fiscal-judge system has completely failed to work in that area. No less than the Department of Justice announced that the prosecutors in Maguindanao province have been afraid to prosecute the Ampatuans such that prosecutors of the DOJ are the ones tasked to perform preliminary investigations and inquest proceedings.

Velasquez, Paglicawan and Dianalan firmly believe that there is no other solution to the problem of the country but to make rule of law reign.

And for them, there is no other way to compel all citizens to adhere to the rule of law but faithful implementation of laws.

To ensure faithful implementation of laws, the two firmly believe that there is no other way but to ensure that no crime goes unpunished.

And if the country is assured that no crime goes unpunished it brings natural deterrence to potential crime-doers, including the corrupt, the greedy, the arrogant and those who think themselves as lords.

Only when what reigns is the force of law—not the law of force—that the Philippines can be assured of peace and prosperity. And there is the reign of the force of law when all laws against corruption, against all forms of discriminations, against all forms of crimes are assured of implementation no matter who gets hurt.

So that should Velasquez, Paglicawan and Dianalan be elected, they will work—come hell or high water—for the submission to the people in a plebiscite of a question whether to make it as a fundamental human right for every person to have the right to be charged in court, arrested, tried and convicted or deprived of their freehold or property rights only after having been passed upon by their fellows or peers.

And when this dream of the two is realized, they believe that the plenty of laws the country has now will all be implemented. And when all these laws are assured of implementation, progress and peace for the country follows as a natural consequence.

No other candidate for President or Vice-President or Senator has this simple but substantive platform of government.

And with this fact of the nobility of their platform, can it still be said that Velasquez, Paglicawan and Dianalan have no bona fide intention to run for the positions to which they filed their certificates of candidacies?

It is submitted their good intention is overflowing.

Now, intention can be manifested by the acts.

And on the part of Velasquez, Paglicawan and Dianalan, they are in fact supported by tens of thousands of overseas Filipinos who learned the beauty of Jury Systems in America, Europe, Australia and the rest of the world, including those members of Worldwide Filipino Alliance (WFA), Partidong Pandaigdigang Pilipino (PPP), Overseas Filipino Council International (OFCI), Philippine Jury International, PhilJury, Juryism Campaign NetBook, and many others.

Their intention to run for these offices are seen by their rabid campaign to educate the Filipinos that the lasting solution to rebellions in the Philippines is the jury system, because it assures full implementation of laws to stop discriminations and abuses by the rich against the poor and by some Christians against the Muslims.

Under the jury systems that Velasquez, Paglicawan and Dianalan vowed to implement, there will be a Grand Jury composed of a group of people chosen by raffle from the voters’ list to exercise the powers to say who should be charged in court, to jail by contempt witnesses until they agree to testify, to jail by contempt the law enforcers until they agree to investigate, and to order battalions of army to augment the police in arresting suspects as powerful as the Ampatuans. The faces and names of the members of the Grand Jury shall be kept secret to give no opportunity for the crime doers to threaten or buy the “people’s fiscal.”

Under the jury systems that they are fighting for, there will be a Trial Jury whose members shall be chosen by raffle from the voters’ list and will be tasked with the duty to try and decide on the factual issues in every trial. They shall be guided by the judge as the presiding officer and as the one who will give them instructions as to what law applies on their findings of facts.

To promote their candidacies, Velasquez, Paglicawan and Dianalan have actually started their campaign for their platform more than two months before filing their certificates of candidacies. Early on, they have collaborated with the setting up of a website dedicated to the cause of jury idea, and this website is http://philjury.ning.com.

They have also joined many yahoogroups and googlegroups to promote the educational campaign on what is a jury system, why it is the best justice system in the world and why Filipinos are prepared to adopt the system because the Americans of 221 years ago when the jury system was founded in the USA cannot be more intelligent than the Filipinos of today.

Velasquez, Paglicawan and Dianalan have been setting up websites for their campaign. This is another clear proof that they have that intention to go for their bid to become President and Vice-President. Among these websites are http://jury-party.ning.com, http://jury-party.multiply.com and http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jury-Party-of-the-Philippines.

To reiterate what has been argued above, there is no law that sets a minimum standard as to how effective the national campaign should be. And yet, with Facebook alone, Velasquez, Paglicawan and Dianalan can mount a national—and even international—campaign to prosecute their bids to the highest positions of the land. How much more if they would go full blast with all other available websites?

With this nobility and do-ability of their platforms coupled with the fact that they have actually prosecuted acts for the furtherance of their campaigns and the hard and brutal fact that they can actually mount a national campaign, it cannot now be said that Velasquez, Paglicawan and Dianalan have no bona fide or good faith intention to run for President, Vice-President and Senator.


Still have rooms for practicality
for purpose of holding elections


As against these substantive and fundamental rights of Velasquez, Paglicawan and Dianalan and their supporters who have vowed to vote and campaign for them, coupled with the fact that they can actually mount a national and international campaign, there is no place to deny their right of suffrage by reason alone of unfounded fears about the practical problems that may arise by reason of the fact that the Comelec would conduct elections under automated system.

It is submitted that the Comelec’s practical considerations on automated poll systems can still accommodate Velasquez, Paglicawan and Dianalan a room for one more.

That is if only to give meaning to the noble platform of government they carry, to honor their genuine intention to run and campaign for the office they are bidding for, and to give a chance for the realization of the dreams of the over-a-million advocates for the establishment of a jury system in the Philippines.
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