Two of the five candidates running for the presidency during the May 2016 elections have pending disqualification cases: first is Senator Grace Poe while the other is Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.
Poe’s candidacy is being challenged on the grounds that she is not a natural-born Filipino citizen and that she has not met the ten-year residency requirement set by the 1987 Constitution. Meanwhile, various parties allege that Duterte should not be allowed to run for president because the man he is seeking to replace on the ballot did not actually file a certificate of candidacy for president.
Here are four reasons how battling a disqualification case can be crippling for any campaign especially at the national level:
1. It creates confusion and uncertainty – Regardless of the merits, being charged with a disqualification case means a candidate can plausibly be eliminated from the race – and this automatically creates doubts among voters and supporters.
Last month, Pulse Asia research director Ana Maria Tabunda explained that Poe’s decline can be attributed to the fact that many survey respondents thought that she is already disqualified with finality from the presidential race.
2. All about the money, money, money – Big money donors understandably would withhold their support for a candidate who is facing a disqualification case. When the flow of campaign donation dries up, a candidate will be forced to reduce advertisements and organize fewer sorties which can potentially lead to limited voter outreach.
3. Diverts campaign resources – Apart from negatively affecting the flow of financial support, dealing with a disqualification case will force campaigns to spend significant sums of money to mount a legal defense. One obvious need is hiring top caliber lawyers.
Organizing public relations ops may also be necessary to make sure that their side of the issue is heard by the public in an unfiltered manner. Of course, given a choice, they would rather spend that money in running ad spots on television.
4. It is a big distraction – To win in the election, candidates must be able to persuade the majority of voters that they are the best person for the position they are seeking. One way they’re doing to do this is by talking about their respective platforms to the media and to the general public.
When a candidate is facing a disqualification case, that’s what the media would be zeroing in all the time. They can try and try to present their vision of governance to the press and to the public but the disqualification case will always be a nagging concern as long as it is not resolved. It’s like a dark cloud hovering around their heads everywhere they go.