DAVAO City Mayor Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte on Tuesday ended up reaffirming his previous certificate of candidacy (COC) for President instead of filing a new one after the Commission on Elections (Comelec) legal department gave its assurance that there was nothing wrong with his original COC.
“I asked them if there’s a need to correct it. They said there was none, everything is okay,” Duterte said in Filipino after he emerged from the department.
All he has to hurdle now is a disqualification case filed against him by a certain Ruben Castro and thereafter a determination of the validity of his substitution by the Comelec en banc.
But Duterte said he is not at all worried with both issues, saying it does not matter to him if the decision is favorable or not.
“I will not stop to live because I am not the President. Hindi ako mamatay pag hindi ako President [I will not die if I do not become the President]. Para sa akin, pareha lang yan [For me, it’s all the same],” he added.
He reiterated that he has really no ambition for the presidency but said his entry in the presidential race is no longer his own but the will of God.
“Sabi ko naman, wala akong ambisyon, hindi ako intresado dyan sa [As I’ve said, I have no ambition, I’m not interested with the) presidency but God has many ways of doing it. If it is really your destiny, not necessarily to win, but it’s really your destiny to be there in the loop vying for the presidency. Ganyan siguro ang nangyayari [Maybe that is what’s happening],” Duterte said.
According to the mayor, he will not be coming back anymore to the Comelec for his disqualification hearing next week but would leave it instead to his lawyers.
Vitaliano Aguirre, Duterte’s chief legal counsel, narrated that while they were inside the legal department, Sen. Aquilino Pimentel 3rd asked if there was anything that should be done by Duterte to make perfect his COC but the legal personnel said there was none.
He explained that their main reason earlier why they decided to file another COC even as the Davao mayor had already filed one on November 27 was to ensure that all the legal loopholes would be covered.
“There is an ambiguity in the law. If you substitute a candidate, you must personally withdraw in Davao City but the law is not clear if you also have to personally file your COC.
That is why we are now covering all the possible disqualification case[s]that might be filed against him,” Aguirre said.
As to the defect of Martin Dino’s COC, Aguirre noted that it was not a major defect but a mere typographical error that was blown out of proportion.
“It’s just a matter of interpretation or construction. Why should he file for mayor of Pasay City [Metro Manila] when he is from Quezon City. He filed at the Comelec main offices where only candidates for President, Vice President and senator are allowed to file,” he pointed out.
“Second, he [Dino] said the CONA [Certificate of Nomination and Acceptance] was there that he is running for President and duly accepted by Mayor Duterte,” Aguirre said.
As to the disqualification case against Duterte, the lawyer said that with the dismissal of the petition to declare Dino a nuisance candidate, it would no longer be a problem.
Pimentel said they saw no obstacle that would prevent the mayor from running for President as substitute candidate of the PDP-Laban Party.
He added that they were not anticipating anything unfavorable for Duterte but said they would pursue all legal remedies in a worst-case scenario.
“A mere error should not prevent someone from presenting himself to the people as their President so that the people will not be preempted in their choices on who they want to lead them as President,” Pimentel pointed out. “The voice of the people is the voice of God.”
Pimentel said the issue against Duterte is not about qualifications but about an error in an earlier COC filed by another person.
“The issue is not on qualification[s]. The issue is [if]that error [is so]significant that you will now prevent the substitution of that first candidate with an error in his COC. For me, it should not be that significant, considering when you say ’significant’ you are preventing the people from entertaining a Duterte candidacy for President,” he added.