The Commission on Elections (Comelec) will devote its time next week to hearing and resolving a disqualification case against Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who recently filed a certificate of candidacy (COC) as a substitute candidate for President of PDP-Laban.
Commissioner Rowena Guanzon, a member of the poll body’s First Division, on Friday said oral arguments on the petition filed by a certain Ruben Castor who questioned the legality of Duterte’s substitution of original party candidate, Martin Diño, would be held on Wednesday or a day before the deadline for the substitution of candidates for next year’s general elections.
Duterte, 70, withdrew his COC for reelection last Friday, November 27, and subsequently filed his COC for President and certificate of nomination and acceptance (CONA) as the substitute candidate of the Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan.
Diño, the secretary-general of PDP-Laban and a former Quezon City barangay (village) captain, filed his candidacy papers on the last day of the filing of COCs last October 16 after Duterte failed to show up at the Comelec main offices in Intramuros, Manila, where he was expected to file his COC.
Duterte would later criticize those pushing him to run for President, saying he was not coveting any higher position and that he would rather retire from politics.
The feisty Davao mayor was widely speculated to be running for President after he started a nationwide lecture tour last year purportedly to promote the idea of shifting to a federal form of government.
Duterte by late November announced he had a “change of heart” after the Senate Electoral Tribunal voted to dismiss a petition questioning Sen. Grace Poe’s citizenship and residency.
Duterte, a lawyer and a former prosecutor, said he could not allow the Constitution to be violated if Poe, who leads in pre-election presidential preference surveys, would eventually be allowed to run and win the presidency.
The Comelec would initially take up Castor’s petition to cancel Duterte’s COC for President before deliberating on the validity of his substitution as the PDP-Laban standard-bearer.
In his petition, Castor argued that Diño’s COC was defective as he purportedly indicated that he is running for mayor of Pasay City (Metro Manila), not for President, thus he can only withdraw his candidacy for mayor, not for President.
Moreover, he claimed that Dino’s COC was also void because it contains several material misrepresentation in violation of the Civil Code and the Omnibus Election Code.
Castor also pointed out that Duterte, although a member of the PDP-Laban, was not nominated by the party but by Hugpong sa Tawong Lungsod, a local political party.
The Comelec en banc would look into the issue whether the substitution of Diño by Duterte is valid.
Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista had admitted there were gray areas on the issue that need to be studied.
“We need to look closely into the COC of Dino. The form was for the position of President but what he wrote on the position he is running for [was different]. If it was for mayor of Pasay City, there’s something ,” Bautista said.
Commissioner Christian Robert Lim said the issue of substitution, as in the case of Duterte, has to be acted upon and approved only by the en banc.
“As to the approval of the substitution, it has to be by the en banc. This is an exercise of the administrative powers of the Comelec, not quasi judicial,” Lim added. “All substitutions are elevated to the en banc for approval.”
Poe seeks DQ dismissal
Senator Grace Poe has asked the Comelec to dismiss an election offense case filed against her by Rizalito David in the midst of the decision of the Senate Electoral Tribunal denying the latter’s motion for reconsideration.
In a five-page Motion to Take Judicial Notice, the presidential aspirant in the May 2016 polls urged the Comelec law department to take notice of the decisions of the electoral tribunal on David’s petition questioning her claims in her COC in the 2013 polls when she ran for senator.
“All told, given [the tribunal’s]decision and resolution in [the tribunal]case, respondent submits that this honorable commission can no longer find sufficient ground to engender a well-founded belief that respondent lied in her COC when she represented that she possessed the citizenship and residency qualifications as senator. The complaint must therefore be dismissed for lack of probable cause,” according to the motion filed by George Garcia, Poe’s lawyer.
It added, “Wherefore, it is respectfully prayed that this honorable office take judicial notice of the attached certified true copy of the decision dated November 17 and the attached Resolution dated December 3 of the [tribunal]case entitled David vs Poe-Llamanzares, and dismiss the complaint for lack of probable cause.”
Garcia noted that the poll body should take judicial notice of matters that are of “public knowledge” as provided by the Rules of Court.
“The [tribunal’s] decision and resolution have been the subject of numerous media reports and it is fair to state that almost all Filipinos are aware of the ruling of the [tribunal]that respondent is a natural-born Filipino. Accordingly, this honorable commission ought to take judicial notice of the [tribunal’s] decision and resolution,” hesaid.
Also, the motion stated that the tribunal’s decision on a similar matter concerning Poe’s 2013 run for senator should be given utmost value considering that it is a constitutional body.
“Under Section 17, Article VI of the 1987 Constitution, the [tribunal]is the sole judge of all contests relating to the qualifications of members of the Senate. Therefore, the [tribunal’s] decision and resolution should be viewed as highly persuasive, if not binding, in this case,” it said. With PNA