Last Wednesday, Governor Leon Guerrero vetoed Substitute bill No. 173-36, which sought to address various election-related issues.
In her response to the substitute bill, the Governor’s decision to veto the bill was due to the language in a proposed addition that addressed the cancellation of primary elections in certain circumstances.
The Governor referenced section 1 of the bill in her response, which in part, proposed: “if equal to or fewer than the maxim number of partisan and non-partisan, or independent candidates who can advance into the general election are running in their respective partisan, a non-partisan, or independent contest in any election year, the primary election shall not take place for such contest for that election year.”
To the extent Bill No. 173-36 is read to eliminate a primary election where the two major parties have equal to or less than the maximum number of candidates who can advance to the general election, this reading yields two equally unacceptable alternative results: (1) an independent candidate is no longer required to meet the established minimum threshold under Section 15404 to be placed on the general election ballot, or (2) an independent candidate is still required to meet the threshold but has no mechanism to do so, due to the cancellation of the primary election.
Furthermore, Pangelinan explained that the bill became complicated further when the issue of the independent candidate came into discussion.
Though the Governor stated that she recognizes that the remaining provisions of the bill may merit further consideration in future legislation, she urged scrutiny of the remaining sections of the bill to ensure consistency with other laws.