A candidate who is disqualified under section 68 can

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A candidate who is disqualified under Section 68 can be validly substituted pursuant to section 77 because he remains a candidate until disqualified; but a person whose COC has been denied due course to and/or cancelled under Section 78 cannot be substituted because he is not considered a candidate. DIGEST: The crux of the present controversy is whether or not HRET gravely abused its discretion in finding that Richard (Gomez) was validly substituted by private respondent as candidate for Leyte Representative (Fourth Legislative District) in view of the former’s failure to meet the one (1) year residency requirement provided under Section 6, Article VI of the Constitution. It is petitioner’s submission that the HRET gravely abused its discretion when it upheld the validity of private respondent’s substitution despite contrary jurisprudence holding that substitution is impermissible where the substituted candidate’s COC was denied due to and/or cancelled, as in the case of Richard. On the other hand, respondents maintain that Richard’s COC was not denied due course to and/or cancelled by the COMELEC as he was only “disqualified” and therefore, was properly substituted by private respondent. The petition is meritorious. The Omnibus Election Code (OEC) provides for certain remedies to assail a candidate’s bid for public office. Among these which obtain particular significance to this case are: (1) a petition for disqualification under Section 68; and (2) a petition to deny due course to and/or cancel a certificate of candidacy under Section 78. The distinctions between the two are well-perceived. Primarily, a disqualification case under Section 68 of the OEC is hinged in either: (a) a candidate’s possession of a permanent
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POLITICAL LAW CASE DIGESTS 120 resident status in a foreign country; or (b) his or her commission of certain acts of disqualification. Anent the latter, the prohibited acts under Section 68 refer to election offenses under the OEC, and not to violations of other penal laws. In particular, these are: (1) giving money or other material consideration to influence, induce or corrupt the voters or public officials performing electoral functions; (2) committing acts of terrorism to enhance one’s candidacy; (3) spending in one’s election campaign an amount in excess of that allowed by the OEC; (4) soliciting, receiving or making any contribution prohibited under Sections 89, 95, 96, 97 and 104 of the OEC; and (5) violating Sections 80, 83, 85, 86 and 261, paragraph d, e, k, v, and cc, sub-paragraph 6 of the OEC. Accordingly, the same provision (Section 68) states that any candidate who in an action or protest in which he or she is a party, is declared by final decision of a competent court guilty of, or found by the COMELEC to have committed any of the foregoing acts shall be disqualified from continuing as a candidate for public office. Or disallowed from holding the same, if he or she had already been elected.
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