Former Comelec chairman sees no legal obstacle in Davao mayor’s possible bid
Former elections commission chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. on Tuesday said he sees no legal stumbling block should Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte proceed with his decision to join next year’s presidential elections via substitution.
“Yes, of course [he can run for President]. I have always been very consistent in saying that when [ Martin] Diño filed [his certificate of candidacy for President]as the official candidate of PDP-Laban. And therefore, if he decides to withdraw before December 10, he can be substituted before December 10,” Brillantes, a known elections law expert, told reporters.
The former Commission on Elections (Comelec) chief explained that under the country’s election code, substitution is allowed if a candidate dies, is disqualified or withdraws his certificate of candidacy.
He said Duterte’s case fits in on the ground of withdrawal.
The rules on substitution also require that the substitute candidate must belong to the same party as the candidate being replaced.
Both Diño, a former Quezon City barangay (village) captain, and Duterte are members of PDP-Laban.
Dino, chairman of theVolunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), filed his certificate of candidacy for President last October 16, the last day of the period for the filing of COC, but he erroneously indicated that he was running for mayor of Pasay City (Metro Manila).
Dino later withdrew his COC for President and in his stead named Duterte as his substitute.
His withdrawal was premised on a letter sent to him by the Comelec asking him to explain why he should not be declared a nuisance candidate.
Earlier, another election law expert, Romulo Macalintal, expressed his doubts about Duterte’s plan to substitute for Diño.
Macalintal said the Davao City mayor cannot legally substitute as Diño’s COC was defective and that the Comelec may declare him a nuisance candidate.
“He was recognized by the Comelec as presidential candidate but he later withdrew, so what’s the issue?” Briillantes said.
He explained that the error in Dino’s COC was a non-issue because it was clear that the form was for President and was recognized by the Comelec that he was a presidential candidate as implied by the notice asking him to explain why he should not be declared a nuisance candidate.
Brillantes pointed out that the Comelec cannot declare Dino anymore a nuisance candidate because “he has already withdrawn his certificate of candidacy” and thus is no longer a candidate.
“So how can you declare a non-candidate a nuisance candidate?” Brillantes said. “It’s already moot and academic.”
“It would be improper to say for Comelec that he is a nuisance [candidate]. What is the purpose? To prevent him from running?” he added.
The former Comelec chief also explained that the prerogative to substitute belongs to the PDP-Laban, not to the withdrawing candidate or Duterte.
According to Brillantes, Duterte should withdraw his COC for mayor of Davao City and needs to take his oath as member of the PDP-Laban as part of the process of substitution before the party can issue him a certificate of nomination and accreditation or CONA.