Can he run? Lawyers differ on Duterte bid
Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) - November 24, 2015 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – Former Commission on Elections chairman Sixto Brillantes and election lawyer Romulo Macalintal have different opinions on whether Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte could run for president in the 2016 polls.

Brillantes and Macalintal gave conflicting views on Duterte’s qualification to be the substitute presidential candidate of the Partido Demokratio Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).

According to Brillantes, Duterte is qualifid to run under the banner of PDP-Laban since its official candidate, Martin Diño, had already withdrawn.

“The grounds in fielding a substitute are death, disqualification and withdrawal. Diño withdrew, so he can be replaced. Why will the party be made to suffer? They nominated one candidate and he withdrew, so why can’t the party replace him?” he said.

Macalintal, on the other hand, noted that there are legal obstacles if Duterte becomes the standard-bearer of PDP-Laban because of the “defective” certificate of candidacy (COC) that Diño filed when he sought to run for president.

Diño used the COC form for president but indicated that he was seeking to run for mayor of Pasay City.

“If the basis of the substitution of Duterte is the COC of Diño, from what I know, there may be some legal impediments. One is because he filed to run for Pasay City mayor, not for president,” he added.

Macalintal maintained that in case Diño is declared a nuisance bet, it is also like considering that he did not file the COC at all.

Comelec officials have so far been silent on Duterte’s case.

Cayetano hits Escudero

Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano yesterday slammed Sen. Francis Escudero for saying that Duterte is just using the disqualification case filed against Sen. Grace Poe as an excuse to run, since he had long decided to seek the presidency.

“It’s clear to me and Duterte that all those running for president should be natural-born citizen. Is it right that someone who pledged allegiance to America would return and like to become president? This should not be allowed. And this is not a drama,” Cayetano said in a statement in Filipino.

Cayetano said Poe should answer directly the issues raised against her instead of hiding behind Escudero.

“Her voice should be heard since she wants to become president. If this early she is already hiding behind a person, who at best is only muddling the issue lodged against her, what more if she becomes president?” Cayetano added.

Cayetano also defended Duterte against insinuations that the mayor might not be allowed to run as a substitute for Diño, the standard-bearer of PDP-Laban. Duterte is a member of the party.

“To those nitpicking at the legal issues surrounding Mayor Duterte’s planned candidacy, set your sights elsewhere. Aside from Mayor Duterte being a natural-born Filipino with a long track record of public service, there are no outstanding legal issues in his bid. Under the law, substitution is allowed. The filing of PDP-Laban is valid,” Cayetano said.

Cayetano also said he is expecting a smear campaign to be launched against Duterte in the months leading to next year’s elections by “influential individuals and groups” who are afraid of Duterte’s inclusion in the race.

Sen. Cynthia Villar, a leader of the Nacionalista Party, reiterated yesterday that the party would not prevent Sen. Cayetano from being the running mate of Duterte.

“Okay. We’re a free zone so we are giving everybody a chance to choose who to vote for,” Villar said.

Villar, wife of NP president and former Senate president Manny Villar, said the party could not issue any official declaration of support for any of the presidential candidates since three of their members are supporting the bids of three competing presidential candidates.

Apart from the purported Duterte-Cayetano tandem, two other NP members – Sens. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Antonio Trillanes IV – are also running for vice president.

Marcos is the running mate of presidential bet Sen. Miram Defensor-Santiago while Trillanes supports the presidential bid of Sen. Poe.

Trillanes, Cayetano and Marcos are all NP members but they have put in their certificates of candidacy that they are running as independent candidates to avoid confusion over party affiliation.

“They all have their chosen presidential candidates, what can we do?” Sen. Villar asked, adding that the party leadership does not want to offend any NP member.

Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito said Duterte could be a game changer in the presidential race because of his strong support from the Visayas and Mindanao.

Ejercito, a member of the United Nationalist Alliance that fielded Vice President Jejomar Binay as its standard-bearer, said that the entry of Duterte would offer the electorate more choices, “better choices of good leaders.”

He said that Duterte could also end up getting the votes from the other presidential contenders because of his popularity across the country.

With regard to Duterte’s statements against Senator Poe about her citizenship, Ejercito said that Poe should just be allowed to run for president and let the electorate decide on her fate.

He said that Poe already has a huge advantage over her rivals now because of her commanding lead in the surveys.

Ejercito said that his family, led by former President and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, has not yet decided on who to support for president.

Quezon City Rep. Alfred Vargas said the support is solid for Liberal Party presidential bet Manuel Roxas II and it would not be affected by Duterte’s entry in the race.

He said he expects the undecided to vote for Roxas.

Laguna Rep. Dan Fernandez, another ally of Roxas, said while Duterte has been cited for his accomplishments as mayor, it took a long time or 22 years to put Davao City to where it is now.

“Davao City became what it is now not because of him (Duterte). The reason Davao is where it is now, because he was given a long time to run Davao,” Fernandez said.

Former senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr. expects the reimposition of the death penalty if Duterte becomes president.

“In our recent conversation Mayor Duterte assured me that the rule of law will be upheld by the re-imposition of death penalty,” he said.

Pimentel said the return of the death penalty would remove perceptions that extrajudicial killings would increase if Duterte wins in the election.

He also welcomed the decision of Duterte to join the presidential race for PDP-Laban, which is advocating a federal system of government.

Pimentel, founding chairman of PDP- Laban, however clarified that he is no longer an active member and his son Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III has assumed the presidency of the party.

The death penalty has not been imposed in the Philippines since 2006 following a public outcry.

Under the Estrada administration, a handful were given lethal injection including convicted rapist Leo Echegaray in 1999. – With Mike Frialde, Christina Mendez, Marvin Sy, Paolo Romero, Perseus Echeminada, Danny Dangcalan

ACIRC ATILDE CAYETANO DUTERTE LABAN MAYOR MAYOR DUTERTE PARTY PRESIDENT PRESIDENTIAL RUN
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