Acosta out but name stays on ballot
By Kristine L. Alave
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—The Commission on Elections will not remove the name of nuisance presidential candidate Vetellano Acosta from the ballots which are being printed at the National Printing Office.
“We cannot change the ballot face now,” Comelec Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal said, as it would result in different ballots for various parts of the country.
Votes for Acosta will be declared “stray votes” and will not be counted in the automated polls.
Acosta is the first name listed on the ballot, ahead of Liberal Party’s Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, the front-runner in the presidential contest.
Aquino lawyers said Acosta was being used by other politicians to undermine Aquino’s chances and sow confusion among voters on election day.
Being No. 1 on the list of candidates has its advantages, according to the Aquino camp, citing a University of Vermont study showing that the lead candidate usually receives more votes than the others.
Acosta, self-proclaimed financial consultant who was declared a nuisance presidential candidate of the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL), could face criminal charges for duping the Comelec.
Larrazabal said Acosta could be held liable for the false data he submitted to the Comelec when he filed his certificate of candidacy last November.
He said the poll body was checking reports that Acosta had made false claims when he declared himself a registered voter in Sta. Ana, Manila.
“It has happened in the past. There was a case filed against someone for making a false declaration under oath. That is something we are studying now,” Larrazabal said.
Comelec law department chief Ferdinand Rafanan said Acosta could be charged with perjury and falsification of documents.
“If he alleges that he is a registered voter and this turns out to be untrue, then he can be sued for perjury and falsification of documents,” Rafanan said.
Last December, the Comelec had declared Acosta a nuisance candidate. With the help of a nomination from KBL, Acosta appealed the ruling and was included in the final list of candidates.
Mockery of poll process
Last Thursday, the Comelec overturned its decision, saying Acosta was an unknown candidate with no agenda and capability to run a national campaign. KBL vice-presidential candidate, broadcaster Jay Sonza, said he did not know Acosta.
“The unfolding of events and the actions of petitioner Acosta during the hearings convinced us now that to allow him to run would be of no good to the country as his candidacy only puts the electoral process in mockery,” according to the Comelec’s eight-page decision.
The disqualification case against Acosta stemmed from a complaint filed by Aquino’s lawyers.