Petitioner in Duterte DQ case a no-show at Comelec

(The Philippine Star) - January 11, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines - One of the petitioners in the four disqualification cases filed against presidential aspirant Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte was a no-show during yesterday’s preliminary conference at the First Division of the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

According to First Division Commissioner Christian Robert Lim, neither petitioner University of the Philippines Student Council chairman John Paul Delas Nieves nor his lawyer appeared at the preliminary conference.

Lim denied news reports that the absence of the petitioner led to the dismissal of the disqualification case.

“The First Division has not yet issued any order dismissing the Nieves petition for failure of the petitioner or his counsel to appear during the preliminary conference,” he told reporters.

The official added that this “will be taken up in the resolution of the cases and the case is still pending.”

Aside from Nieves’ petition, Duterte is also facing three other disqualification cases filed by Ruben Castor, Rizalito David and Elly Pamatong.

The petitioners have asked the Comelec to cancel Duterte’s certificate of candidacy (COC) because his substitution for Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino-Laban (PDP-Laban) standard-bearer Martin Diño was not valid.  

The petitioners claimed that with Diño’s defective COC, Duterte could not be considered a legitimate substitute candidate.

The counsel of Duterte, however, welcomed reports of the dismissal of the disqualification case of Nieves, who sought the cancellation of the COC of the mayor after he and his lawyer failed to appear in the preliminary conference on the case.

Duterte’s lawyer Vitaliano Aguirre told The STAR yesterday that they have not yet received a copy of the decision. 

Aguirre said that a dismissal order is final and if ever there would be another petition, it would be decided by the Comelec in full session.

Duterte, on the other hand, was expected to arrive yesterday from his trip to Taiwan.

Allies of Duterte welcomed reports of the Comelec junking the disqualification case against the mayor.

Davao City Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles said he was relieved the poll body was “applying the rule of law correctly” in dismissing the petition.

“This is a welcome relief, given the damaging remarks, potshots and mudslinging being hurled against the good commissioners and against their institution by some quarters in this electoral exercise,” Nograles said in a statement.

Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez also hailed the Comelec decision as it “upheld the rule of law by allowing the people’s will to decide on the offer of Mayor Duterte to become the country’s next president.”

“We thank and commend the Comelec First Division for this fair and constitutional ruling that would help maintain the faith of Filipinos in our electoral process,” Romualdez said.

Romualdez is a senatorial candidate of both Duterte and Vice President Jejomar Binay.

 Threats from drug lords

Duterte disclosed that drug lords would try to silence him because of his vow to neutralize them should he win in the May presidential elections.

He added that “crooked rich businessmen and corrupt elements” would not hesitate to spend millions just to stop him from winning.

“The drug lords will try to kill me, the crooked rich businessmen and corrupt elements will spend big money to prevent me from changing the order of things. Our country needs an overhaul,” Duterte said in an interview with radio dzRJ.

Duterte said he would not retreat, especially if the people will support him in his quest to change the current state of society.

“Sama-sama nating linisin at ayusin ang ating mahal na bayan (together we could clean and organize our country),” he added.

The tough-talking Duterte previously vowed weekly executions should he win the presidency.

He also admitted killing criminals in Davao City three months after he was elected mayor in 1988, alarming officials of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).

The CHR, however, said that no human rights case filed against Duterte has prospered.    

Duterte also previously admitted that he received offers for funding from smugglers and influential businessmen who violate the law, but he refused them.

“I will still go after you even if you contribute to my campaign if you do not follow the law, so better not contribute,” he said.

Duterte urged the public to do their responsibilities and “the sacrifice” to spread the word that revolution to change the Philippines is coming by choosing the right candidate in the 2016 polls.

“This country is no longer for sale – everyone must undergo a transformation,” he disclosed.  – With Paolo Romero, Robertzon Ramirez, Edith Regalado

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