Comelec gives Duterte, DQ petitioner time to submit papers

Mayen Jaymalin (The Philippine Star) - December 18, 2015 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has given Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte until after Christmas to disprove the petition seeking to disqualify him from the May 2016 presidential elections.

The Comelec First Division ordered Duterte as well as the camp of petitioner Roman Castor to submit within 10 working days or until Dec. 28 their position papers on the merits of the case.

Comelec Commissioner Christian Lim said Duterte and Castor should discuss in their memoranda two issues - whether the Comelec First Division has authority over the case and the actual merit of the petition.

According to Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon, the poll body needs to resolve if the certificate of candidacy (COC) filed by Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan official Martin Diño is valid or not.

“The petition of (Castor) is that the COC of Diño is void. So if this is correct there is nothing for a candidate (Duterte) to substitute,” Guanzon explained.

“So in their respective memorandum, they are going to explain the factual background of the case. They have to show valid justification why he wrote he is running for mayor of Pasay in his COC,” she added.

During yesterday hearing, Duterte’s legal counsels maintained that Diño merely committed a clerical error and that his COC for president was valid, contrary to the claim of Castor.

Vitaliano Aguirre, Duterte lead counsel, noted that Diño could not run for Pasay mayor as stated in COC because he also stated that he is a resident of Quezon City.

He also stressed that Diño’s decision to withdraw from the presidential race was his personal decision and not influenced by the political party.      

Also during yesterday’s hearing, Castor’s legal counsel and Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL) stalwart Oliver Lozano expressed willingness to take in Duterte as the party’s standard-bearer so he could avoid possible disqualification from the presidential race.

Lozano said the merger would allow Duterte to replace Augusto Syjuco, who was previously declared as “nuisance candidate” and wipe out any legal questions on Duterte’s presidential bid.

“There is an available remedy for Duterte. That is seek a willing political party like PDP-Laban and KBL can join forces. We want the mayor to be one of those to be chosen for president,” Lozano said.

PDP-Laban president Sen. Aquilino III, who was present during the hearing, merely smiled in response to Lozano’s offer.

Lozano stressed that Duterte cannot run as substitute candidate for Diño because the latter’s COC was invalid.

“What we are saying is don’t try to replace Diño because his certificate is not legal. He can run as substitute candidate for Syjuco under KBL party,” Lozano noted.

“Syjuco has been declared a nuisance candidate which is tantamount to disqualification,” Lozano said while noting that disqualification is one of legal grounds allowing substitution of candidate.

Lozano said KBL has been pushing for the Davao mayor’s presidential bid.

According to Lozano, his client is not against Duterte’s presidential aspiration, but merely wanted the nullification of the COC for president of Diño.

Lozano said Diño’s COC should be nullified since he misrepresented himself when he stated that he is running for mayor of Pasay City. Diño eventually withdrew his COC after which PDP nominated Duterte as substitute candidate.

Since Diño’s COC was invalid, Lozano said, all consequences and subsequent acts connecting to the certificate shall also be considered illegal. Lozano expressed confidence that the Comelec will rule in their favor, considering that PDP-Laban and Duterte’s counsel failed to dispute their claim that Diño’s COC was invalid.

When interviewed after the hearing, Pimentel declined to comment and said he came only to observe and represent his party.

However, Pimentel said their counsels satisfactorily answered the petition filed against Diño, Duterte and the PDP-Laban.

“The petition is objectionable in the sense that the petitioner used the shotgun approach. They incorporated all arguments, but we have answered them all,” Pimentel said.

Aguirre expressed belief that the petition filed against Dutrte was beyond the jurisdiction of the Comelec First Division and should be dismissed. – With Robertzon Ramirez, Perseus Echeminada



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