PWERSA ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) standard-bearer Romel Mendoza has withdrawn his certificate of candidacy (COC) for President and endorsed instead Vice President Jejomar Binay.
Mendoza, also secretary-general of the Kalipunan ng Masang Pilipino (Kampil), on Monday admitted that he really had no intention to run for President but he filed his COC as an option for PMP to field former president and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada.
“I filed my candidacy because of an earlier statement of President Estrada that he was leaving his options open to run again for President if Sen. Grace Poe is disqualified and, second, if Vice President Jejomar Binay is put behind bars,” he said in a statement.
But Estrada is seeking reelection as mayor of Manila while Binay remains a freeman and Poe’s disqualification cases are yet to be decided by the Supreme Court.
“I am withdrawing my candidacy as President. We will officially inform the Commission on Elections [Comelec] so that my name will not create confusion in the official ballot for the 2016 elections. This decision has already been relayed by Kampil to the leadership of the PMP,” Mendoza, one of eight presidential candidates officially certified by the Comelec, said.
He added that Kampil, a multi-sectoral organization, is strongly endorsing the candidacy of Binay for President primarily because of his pro-Filipino and pro-masses agenda and platform of government.
Comelec Chairman Juan Andres Bautista said the poll body will immediately remove Mendoza’s name from the list of presidential candidates as soon as it received the latter’s official letter of withdrawal.
“We will accept his withdrawal,” Bautista added.
According to him, Mendoza’s withdrawal was timely because the final list and printing of official ballots will start on February 8.
With Mendoza’s withdrawal, only seven candidates would slug it out in the May 2016 presidential elections, namely: Binay, Poe, Liberal Party standard-bearer Manuel Roxas 2nd, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, OFW party-list Rep. Roy Señeres and independent candidate Dante Valencia.
The Comelec declared Valencia a nuisance candidate but he appealed the ruling before the commission en banc.
Bautista said if a candidate will be disqualified after the printing of ballots, his or her votes will be declared as stray.
Three presidential candidates are facing disqualification cases—Poe, Duterte and Valencia.
Poe has been disqualified by the Comelec en banc for not being a natural-born Filipino and for her failure to comply with the 10-year residency rule. Her case is pending at the Supreme Court.
Four complaints were filed against Duterte but the Comelec consolidated the cases. A resolution is expected to come out anytime soon.