NOW there are five.
The number of presidential candidates in the 2016 elections has been whittled down to five with the withdrawal on Friday of OFW Club party-list Rep. Roy Señeres.
He is the second presidential aspirant to drop out.
Last week, Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino standard-bearer Romel Mendoza withdrew his certificate of candidacy (COC) for President and endorsed Vice President Jejomar Binay.
“I wish to inform you all that after much thought and prayers to God Almighty, I am hereby announcing my withdrawal from the Philippine presidential race. I do so with the blessings of my family and upon the recommendation of my doctors who advised me to avoid stress due to my long-standing diabetes so as to prevent the complications thereof,” Señeres said in a statement read by his lawyer Candelaria Rival.
The lawyer said the lawmaker did not say if he will be supporting any presidential candidate.
Despite Señeres’ announcement of his withdrawal, his name will remain on the official list of presidential candidates until he complies with the rules on withdrawal.
Under the law, a candidate should personally appear at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to file his certificate of withdrawal, John Rex Laudiangco, chief of the poll body’s legal opinion and research division, said.
“It is very clear in the rules. It [withdrawal]should be personally filed. All granted withdrawals were personally filed. If it is filed at the [Comelec] field office, the election officer should attest [to]the transmittal that it was personally filed,” Laudiangco added.
Rival said Señeres did not really want to withdraw but his doctors prevailed.
“He prayed hard, asking God whether he should pursue [his candidacy]despite his condition. However, he saw signs from God, and finally decided to just withdraw and give opportunity to other presidential candidates to be voted upon,” she told reporters.
Rival was accompanied by Señeres’ daughter, Ana.
They tried to file the statement of withdrawal but it was not accepted by the Comelec law department.
Rival explained that Seneres is too weak to appear personally but she will go back to the Comelec next week to submit a medical certificate that would prove that her client is really “helpless.”
But Comelec Chairman Juan Andres Bautista said the certificate of withdrawal should have been accepted by the commission.
“Ayaw na noong tao eh. Ano ang gagawin mo [He wants to quit. What can you do]?” Bautista told The Manila Times. “They should have accepted it.”
He explained that the presence of Señeres’ daughter and his lawyer was enough proof of the lawmaker’s intention to withdraw.
There were earlier reports that Seneres was being prodded to withdraw and support instead the presidential bid of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.
Seneres and Duterte both hail from Mindanao and are members of the same fraternity at the San Beda College of Law.
With Señeres’ withdrawal, only five presidential aspirants are in the race—Duterte of PDP-Laban, Manuel “Mar” Roxas 2nd of the Liberal Party, Vice President Jejomar Binay of the United Nationalist Allliance and independent candidates Senator Grace Poe and Miriam Defensor Santiago.
Another independent presidential candidate, Dante Valencia, was removed from the Comelec’s list after the Supreme Court sustained the poll body’s ruling declaring him a nuisance candidate.