A petitioner in the consolidated disqualification cases against Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has asked the Commission on Elections (Comelec) en banc to reverse its First Division resolution dismissing all four cases for lack of merit.
Broadcaster Rizalito David’s motion was received by the Comelec law department at the start on Tuesday of the 90-day official campaign period for national posts in the May 2016 elections.
“With all due respect, the assailed resolution of the honorable First Division is not in accord with the laws, the evidence and jurisprudence, and thus, should be reconsidered by the honorable commission,” lawyer Manuelito Luna, counsel for David, said.
The petitioner claimed that contrary to the Comelec’s findings, the filing as well as withdrawal by Martin Dino of his certificate of candidacy (COC) was attended by glaring irregularities and intended to make a mockery of the elections, and Dino could not have been validly substituted by Duterte.
He said Dino filed his for mayor of Pasay City (Metro Manila), not for President, and thus bound by his own declarations and representations stated in the COC.
“The commission seriously erred in ruling that the title of the COC, not the declarations and representations stated therein, is controlling. The declarations and representations stated therein are controlling simply because they are more significant than the title thereof,” the petition said.
It pointed out that since Dino had filed a valid COC for mayor, he could not have been validly substituted by Duterte, whose nomination by the political party Hugpong sa Tawong Lungsod for mayor of Davao City has not also been withdrawn.
“Even granting arguendo, that Hugpong’s and PDP-Laban’s nominations of Duterte can legally co-exist, still respondent Duterte’s substitution of Dino could not have validly taken place since the latter never filed a COC for President,” the petition said.
It added, “Obviously, the commission [First Division] got it all wrong when it ruled that Dino was a candidate for President–not for mayor of Pasay City–and that he was validly substituted by respondent Duterte.”
Luna explained that contrary to the Comelec’s finding, Hugpong is required by the Omnibus Election Code (OEC) to withdraw its nomination of Duterte for mayor of Davao City as held in the case of Ramirez v. Comelec.
He said the commission also failed to take decisive action on its claim that Dino is a mere placeholder for Duterte or that the substitution was a ploy to extend the period of filing of COC to benefit the mayor.
Luna added that the Comelec has the power to enforce and administer all laws and regulations relative to the conduct of an election, and as such “it is not true that the commission is powerless to look into the reason for the withdrawal and the subsequent substitution effected by the PDP-Laban.”
Bolstering petitioner’s plea for reconsideration, he said, is the pronouncement of the commission in its assailed resolution that Dino filed a valid COC for President, which he can withdraw anytime, and for which he can be substituted for, being a member of the political party PDP-Laban.
Luna noted an observation of the First Division that petitioners David and John Paulo delas Nieves did raise some valid points against the substitution of Duterte for Dino, when they said t that “to allow the substitution is, in a way, an unlawful extension of the period set for the filing of [COC].”
He said the Comelec is well aware that the provision is prone to abuse, and may even lead to the bastardization of the entire process involved in the selection of candidates by the various political parties in existence in order to ensure their victory in the polls.
“The commission cannot play deaf and blind to the innumerable violations of pertinent provisions of the OEC and Resolution 9984 committed by respondent Duterte and Dino as this will open the floodgates to wanton disregard thereof by others similarly minded in future elections,” Luna added.
“In these light, it behooves the honorable commission to grant reconsideration and to declare the substitution of respondent Duterte for Dino as null and void,” the petition said.
The First Division, headed by Senior Commissioner Christian Robert Lim, unanimously voted to dismiss the disqualification cases against Duterte for lack of merit.
Aside from David and delas Nieves, the two other petitioners are lawyer Ely Pamatong and broadcaster Ruben Castor.