FVR on Duterte, Poe DQs: Let the people decide

Paolo Romero - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Filipinos could end up having only one presidential candidate in the 2016 elections if the others are disqualified from the race, former President Fidel Ramos said yesterday.

Ramos made the statement when asked about the disqualification cases filed against Sen. Grace Poe and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who are running for president.

Ramos said Filipinos should be allowed to decide on the qualifications of the presidential aspirants.

He added Poe and Duterte should be given the “benefit of the doubt.”

“My point is, we may end up with only one candidate for the presidency if we follow this process of elimination, which is of course not the way the people want it. So give them the benefit of the doubt,” Ramos told the Pandesal forum in Quezon City hosted by The STAR columnist Wilson Lee Flores.

“When there’s some doubt, let’s give the benefit of the doubt to the person concerned. Let the people decide,” Ramos added.

There are rumors that the disqualification cases against Poe and Duterte were being bankrolled or masterminded by Malacañang and Liberal Party (LP) standard bearer Manuel Roxas II, who is trailing behind them in the presidential surveys.

Malacañang and the LP are reportedly working on putting Vice President Jejomar Binay, who is also a strong contender in the 2016 presidential race, in jail with the filing of plunder charges against him.

Ramos cited the case in the 1992 presidential elections where he won from a field of seven candidates.

He said Poe and her running mate Sen. Francis Escudero sought his advice last July and he gave them copies of his platform of governance as well as his instructions to campaign strategists.

He said Duterte has also sought his advice.

Ramos said he has not yet decided on who to support among the presidential candidates.

“Ask me again a week before the elections,” he said.

‘Let Poe, Duterte run’

The leader of the opposition in the House of Representatives said if he would have his way, he would let Poe and Duterte run despite the disqualification cases they are facing.

Minority Leader Ronaldo Zamora, who is a lawyer, said the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the Supreme Court should not disqualify the two presidential bets.

“They should allow them to run and let the people decide,” he said.

He said keeping Poe and Duterte in the list of presidential candidates would give voters a wider field of choice in choosing President Aquino’s successor.

“Let’s be more democratic about this,” he said.

Both Poe and Duterte are facing disqualification cases before the Comelec.

Two Comelec divisions have cancelled Poe’s certificate of candidacy (COC) after concluding that she is not a natural-born Filipino citizen and lacks the required 10-year residency for one aspiring to be president.

Poe claims she is a natural-born Filipino and is compliant with the residency requirement.

As for Duterte, his substitution for Martin Diño of PDP-Laban is allegedly defective because the latter filed his COC for Pasay City mayor.

Duterte therefore cannot be a replacement candidate for president since there was no such candidate in the first place.

Veteran election lawyer Romulo Macalintal said the Comelec should deny Duterte’s substitution of Diño and reject the Davao City mayor’s COC for president. – With Jess Diaz

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