DESPITE the pandemic, the first day of the filing of Certificate of Candidacy (COC) and Certificates of Nomination and Acceptance (CONAs) remained peaceful and orderly, according to the Commission on Elections.

 Among the aspirants for the top elective posts for the 2022 polls, only boxing icon and Sen. Manny Pacquiao filed his COC, alongside his running mate, Deputy Speaker and Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza.

In a press briefing on Friday, Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said they got no reports of untoward incidents related to COC filing being conducted in the Sofitel Harbor Garden Tent in Pasay City, as well as their regional offices. 

“They opened at 8:00 am for the reception of COCs and this is true across the board.

“Every office seems to have been very prepared in coordination with the AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] and the PNP [Philippine National Police] beginning in early September, so these offices were able to function very smoothly,” he added.

He noted health and safety protocols were strictly observed within the filing venues and no “significant” congregations formed outside of the venues.

Comelec recorded a lone “staff” in the COC filing venue in Batangas, who was immediately isolated by authorities.

Auspicious dates

During the first day of the filing period, Jimenez noted only a few aspiring candidates submitted their COCs for national positions at the Sofitel as in previous elections.

“The first day really doesn’t see a lot of filers. The people who file on the first day are the people who make it a point to file on the first day. But for the most part, most of the candidates tend to cluster at the end of the period,” Jimenez said.

He said most candidates are likely to file their COCs on October 7 and 8, which he said are both auspicious dates.

“We feel that is really a bigger factor than Covid,” Jimenez said.

National candidates

Only a few prominent of the 23 aspiring candidates for the national positions filed their COC last Friday.

Among them are Pacquiao, who is running for president under the PDP-Laban/Promdi/PCM Alliance and Atienza.

Other well-known aspirants are Antique Representative Loren Legarda and Sorsogon Governor Francis “Chiz” Escudero, both members of the Nationalist People’s Coalition who are eyeing a return to the Senate.  

Senator Risa Hontiveros is also seeking reelection under the Akbayan.

Meanwhile, other less known presidential aspirants include Dave Aguila; Dr. Jose C. Montemayor (DPP); Ley Ordenes (independent); Edmundo Rubi, (independent); Lurencio Jun Yulaga (PGRP).

For the vice presidentiables, the candidates are Rochelle David (independent) and Alexander Lague, (PGRP).

Most of the senatoriables who filed: former Secretary of the Senate Lutgardo Barbo, (PDP-Laban); Abner Afuang, (independent); Bay Maylanie Esmael, (independent); Norman Marquez, (independent); Bertito Del Mundo (independent); Romeo Plasquita (independent); Samuel Sanchez, (independent); Baldomero Falcone (DPP); Phil Delos Reyes (independent); Ziegfred “Tapzlord” Giron (independent) and Agnes Afable.

 In the case of party-list the following groups, filed their CONAs to be included in the 2022 NLE ballot: ACT-CIS, AGAP, Kabayan, An-Waray, DIWA, Pilipinas para sa Pinoy, Alona, TODA, Cancer, People’s Volunteer Against illegal Drugs, 1-PACMAN, Marino, Ako Tanod, Ang Probinsyano, PBA, COOP-NATCCO, WACCAA, and 1-Rider.

Nuisance candidates

Jimenez said Comelec will screen the list to remove “nuisance” candidates—those who have no bonafide intention to run or are merely aiming to mock the election system.

 “There will be an opportunity for them to defend their candidacy. There will be a hearing for that if necessary otherwise the criteria provided by law is fairly safe and explanatory,” Jimenez said.

He noted even previously declared “nuisance” candidates in previous polls will still be allowed to file their COCs for the 2022 NLE.

“Maybe now their circumstances have changed. We have to take each case as it comes,” Jimenez said.

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