Legal battle looms on validity of substitution
DAVAO City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte on Friday officially signified his intention to join next year’s presidential elections by withdrawing his certificate of candidacy for reelection and filing a COC as a substitute candidate for President.
Duterte went to the Comelec field office in Davao City at 11:40 a.m. and sought the withdrawal of his COC for mayor. He also filed a certificate of substitution naming his daughter, Sara, as his substitute in the mayoralty race.
Sara—a former mayor who once hogged the headlines for punching a court sheriff who was serving a demolition order in 2011 —also showed up at the Comelec together with her husband, Mans Carpio, and filed her COC as a substitute candidate for mayor.
Mayor Duterte, who initially said he is not interested in seeking a higher elective position, filed his COC for mayor on October 15.
In Manila, Duterte’s lawyer Salvador Medialdea went to the Comelec main office at the Palacio del Governador in Intramuros, Manila, and filed the mayor’s COC for President.
Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista said substitution is allowed until December 10 and the official list of candidates would be out by December 15.
Medialdea also submitted Duterte’s certificate of nomination and acceptance (CONA) as the official candidate for President of PDP-Laban. The document was signed by Salvador Ty, the party’s vice president.
Seen with a group accompanying Medialdea at the Comelec office were former Tarlac Rep. Jose “Peping” Cojuangco Jr.–the uncle of President Benigno Aquino 3rd–and political strategist Pastor “Boy” Saycon.
Duterte’s lawyer also submitted photocopies of the mayor’s passport, bio-data and platform of government, thrusts and priority programs.
His seven-point platform and priority programs centering on eradicating corruption; eliminating drugs and reducing criminality; fixing government administration; urban, rural and transport infrastructure; tax reforms; shift to a federal form of government; and building disaster-resilient communities.
“I crossed the bridge of Rubicon. I place my future in the hands of God,” Duterte said in a news conference before heading for Sarangani province.
While he was sad that he would lose part of his privacy to “klieg lights,” the mayor said he has no regrets.
According to Duterte, he would not know what would bring him to the crossroads in life.
The mayor vowed to abide with the Comelec’s decision regarding the substitution process.
“I will forget about qualms, I will accept gracefully,” he said.
He reiterated that his decision is a matter of principle, saying this is his time to face the people.
Duterte highlighted the need to protect the Constitution.
“Pag hindi sinunod ang Constitution [If the Constitution is not followed] what would prevent others to violate [it]?” he said.
A few hours after the Comelec Legal Department received Duterte’s COC, a certain Ruben Castor filed a petition seeking to nullify Duterte’s COC.
Aside from the mayor, also named as respondents in the petition were Martin Diño and the PDP-Laban.
Diño was the originally registered standard-bearer of PDP-Laban before he withdrew his COC.
Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said the acceptance of Duterte’s COC was ministerial.
Whether it was compliant with the rules on substitution is for the commissioners to determine, he pointed out.
Under the process of substitution as provided by the Omnibus Election Code, Duterte has to withdraw his COC for mayor of Davao City, take his oath as member of the PDP-Laban and submit a CONA from his political party.
Substitution is allowed under Article IX, Section 77 of the Omnibus Election Code. It states, “If after the last day for the filing of certificates of candidacy, an official candidate of a registered or accredited political party dies, withdraws or is disqualified for any cause, only a person belonging to, and certified by, the same political party may file a certificate of candidacy to replace the candidate who died, withdrew or was disqualified.”
Duterte substituted for Diño, a former Quezon City barangay (village) captain and current chairman of the group Volunteer Against Crime and Corruption (VACC). They are both members of the PDP-Laban.
Diño filed his COC for President but erroneously wrote that he was running for mayor of Pasay City (Metro Manila).
Diño later withdrew his COC for President and 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.
Even before Diño’s withdrawal, PDP-Laban has already passed a resolution compelling Duterte to be their substitute candidate for President.
In Resolution No. 2 Series of 2015, the party said it must “compel any one of its members who can carry the banner and torch of the party to victory, to substitute Martin ‘Bobot’ Diño, as the party must have its candidate in the coming May 9, 2016 elections.”
“Wherefore, be it resolved, as it is hereby resolved, to substitute Martin ‘Bobot’ Diño in case he withdraws from the presidential race with Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte who is concededly the strongest presidential hopeful of the party aside from Martin ‘Bobot’ Diño, and who must dutifully abide by the decision of the party,” the resolution added.
In seeking Duterte’s disqualification, Castor claimed that Diño’s COC was not for President but for mayor of Pasay City, thus he can only withdraw his candidacy for mayor, not for President.
Represented by lawyers Oliver Lozano and Evangeline Lozano Endriano, he said Diño’s
COC was also void because it contains several material misrepresentation in violation of the mandatory provision of law or Article 5 of the Civil Code, and also Section 74 of the Omnibus Election Code.
“There is clearly no candidate for President who is withdrawing his candidacy for the same position of President; and there is none that respondent Duterte may substitute,” the petitioner said.
He also pointed out that Duterte, although a member of the PDP-Laban, was not nominated by the party for mayor of Davao but by Hugpong sa Tawong Lungsod, a local political party.
“Wherefore, it is most respectfully prayed that the Honorable Commission declare the COC of respondent Dino as null and void. Legally inexistent and without legal effect. It should not be considered as valid COC for President; that respondent Dino cannot withdraw his candidacy for a position of President because his COC is for the position of Mayor of Pasay City, not for President; that respondent Duterte cannot substitute respondent Dino for the position of President; and finally the PDP cannot substitute respondent Duterte for the President of the Philippines,” the petition read.
Sara Duterte-Carpio said she agreed to become her father’s substitute “for the love of the country.”
“It was for our country, of course,” she told The Manila Times.
The former mayor of Davao earlier expressed her opposition to calls for her father to join the presidential race.
She, however, changed her mind and encouraged the mayor to listen to the clamor of the people–a decision coupled by the dramatic shaving of her head.
On Friday, the Dutertes once again explained their number one problem: money and machinery.
“We do not have the money to run a campaign,” Mayor Duterte said in a news conference.
“If you want anti-criminality and anti-corruption, invest in your country, not in me.”
Sara brought to Facebook her appeal to those who want her father to become the next President of the Philippines.
“Ang maitutulong niyo po ay siguraduhin na bumoto ng Duterte sa araw ng halalan,” she said. “Pasensya na at wala kami kakayanan na gumastos para umikot at magkampanya at personal na hingin ang suporta ninyo. Salamat [What you can do is to make sure that you vote for Duterte on election day. Our apologies because we do not have the money to go around and campaign personally and ask for your support. Thank you].”
Vice President Jejomar Binay welcomed Duterte’s filing of COC.
“The Vice President welcomes the entry of Mayor Duterte in the presidential race. The people should be afforded more choices in 2016,” Binay’s spokesman Joey Salgado said in a statement.
Independent presidential candidate Sen. Grace Poe does not feel threatened by the entry of Duterte in the presidential derby but it does not mean that she will be complacent.
“We should not take anybody for granted. We are all running for the same position,” Poe said in Lipa City, Batangas.
Poe, in a news conference with other candidates of Partido Galing at Puso (PGP) said nobody can ascertain what will be the results of the elections next year, and the important thing is to work hard and make sure that the people would be able to get and accept her platforms and aspirations for the country.
The senator, however, declined to say if she is considering Duterte as her strongest rival in next year’s polls, noting that all presidential aspirants have their own strengths and weaknesses and in the end it will all depend on how they will be able to convince the public that they are the right choice.
Poe admitted that Duterte’s entry in the presidential race would not only have an effect on her but other presidential candidates as well.
“It will have an effect on our chances of winning or losing because votes will be divided,” she said, adding that it is the reason why she believes that she needs to work hard.
Duterte emerged as the top presidential pick in Metro Manila based on a recent survey conducted by Pulse Asia wherein he got 34 percent of respondents.
Poe landed in second place with 26 percent while Vice President Jejomar Binay in third place.
Poe said she considers the survey credible and reflective of Metro Manila sentiments.
“I believe that the survey was credible, It showed that we [Poe and Duterte] were statistically tied,” she added.
Poe visited the Enverga University Foundation in Lucena City and Batangas State University in Lipa City on Friday for a consultation with students.