When an honest mistake is unacceptable


SENATOR Grace Poe and Mayor Rodrigo Duterte of Davao City both faced disqualification from the May 9 presidential race because of “honest mistakes.”

But a few days ago, a Commission on Elections (Comelec) panel allowed Duterte to pursue his bid by dismissing all four petitions for his disqualification, while Poe continues to slug it out in the Supreme Court for her joint appeals to reverse the rulings of the poll body on the four petitions to cancel her certificate of candidacy (CoC).

Well, the petitions for their disqualification largely differ on their nature. While those who wanted Duterte out of the upcoming presidential race have cited erroneous entries in the CoC of the candidate he is substituting for, those against Poe raise insufficiencies in her status as a Filipino citizen and her residency in the Philippines.

The matter is not about Poe’s charms and courteous manner of speaking, against Duterte’s “dirty” mouth and movements and dictatorial tone.

Duterte’s problem was about form, while that of Poe concerned substance. I think the Comelec exercised laxity in scrutinizing Duterte’s problem over technicality, but dealt strictly with the substance of the case involving Poe.

It did not matter that Duterte substituted for a candidate who could have been declared a nuisance had he not withdrawn before Comelec could declare him so, and that candidate, who used to be a chairman of a barangay where I lived in Quezon City, did not file for President but for the mayor of Pasay City.

Poe has claimed it was an honest mistake that she wrote in her CoC for her 2013 senatorial bid that she had been residing in the country for six years and six months as of May 13, 2013.

Based on that, it would make her stay in the country short by seven months to meet the minimum 10-year requirement for the presidency under the Constitution.

Apart from her residency, the status of her Filipino citizenship is likewise in question. The Comelec said she did not revert to her natural-born status when she reacquired her Filipino citizenship in 2006.

Under the 1987 Constitution, natural-born Filipinos are those “who are citizens of the Philippines from birth without having to perform any act to acquire or perfect their Philippine citizenship.”

From the beginning, Martin Diño, a former chairman of Barangay San Antonio in San Francisco del Monte, Quezon City, did not show enthusiasm about running for president but had made his intention clear that he was filing for Duterte.

Diño was among 130 presidential aspirants who filed their CoCs at the Comelec during the October 12 to 16 filing period.

But as the Comelec was beginning to weed out the nuisance among the aspirants, Diño quickly withdrew his CoC and nominated Duterte as his substitute candidate.

Diño pulled a fast one on Comelec and effectively extended the period of filing for Duterte, who was a reluctant candidate, until December 10, 2015. Duterte missed the October 12 to 16 filing period because he refused to heed calls for him to seek the presidency, repeatedly insisting that he was not interested in becoming a President.

Were the petitions against Duterte really weak and those against Poe strong? By simply looking at the roll of petitioners, those who want Poe out of the presidential race are lawyers with reputable positions in society while those against Duterte were little known and less influential personalities.

Political science professor Antonio Contreras, former University of the East (UE) law school Dean Amado Valdez, former Senator Francisco Tatad and private lawyer Estrella Elamparo raised serious questions on Poe’s residency and citizenship status.

Poe faced and won a round in the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) – composed of three Supreme Court justices and six senators – that dismissed a petition filed by fellow presidential aspirant Rizalito David, a defeated senatorial candidate in the 2013 elections, which Poe surprisingly topped. David wanted Poe to be unseated as a senator based on similar questions about her residency and Filipino citizenship.

Five of Poe’s colleagues in the SET voted in her favor, defeating the position of the three SC justices – Antonio Carpio, Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, and Arturo Brion – and Sen. Nancy Binay, daughter of Vice President and opposition standard-bearer Jejomar Binay.

Those who petitioned Duterte’s disqualification were David, broadcaster Ruben Castor, student leader John Paulo delas Nieves and Elly Pamatong, who had been declared a nuisance either as a presidential or senatorial aspirant in previous elections. Their petitions were dismissed for lack of merit. In short, the questions raised were weak, and would not stand legal scrutiny.

Besides, Castor and delas Nieves failed to appear for the preliminary conference at the Comelec.

“We’d like to announce that the First Division has ruled that ‘The Punisher’ will live to die another day,” Commissioner Christian Robert Lim, the panel chairperson, said on February 3. “Today, the First Division has ruled to deny all the petitions filed against Mayor Rodrigo D. Duterte.”

“We’ve threshed out all the issues, discussed by the petitioners, and ruled on them. It was a unanimous decision of the First Division,” he added.

Aside from Lim, the First Division also includes Commissioners Luie Tito Guia and Rowena Guanzon.

Guanzon—who the Duterte camp had asked to inhibit from the case—noted the petitioners’ point in her dissent on how Duterte managed to have his withdrawal of CoC for the mayoralty race in Davao City and his CoC for the presidency notarized at the same time on the same day. It may have been possible that he did so in Davao City on the first working hour then flew to Manila and beat the last working hour in Pasig City. But news reports said there was no explanation on how Duterte did not.

Despite technical errors in Duterte’s application for candidacy, the Comelec did not find “material misrepresentation” that could have been a ground for the cancellation of his CoC for President. In a 50-page resolution, it said the discrepancies pointed out in the petitions were “immaterial and irrelevant” to Duterte’s “valid” filing and substitution for Dino.

In the case of Poe, two panels of the poll body, and subsequently affirmed in an en banc decision, found her committing “material misrepresentation” in her erroneous declaration of her residency and on her claim of being a natural-born Filipino citizen.

“The Commission (First Division), however, does not find this implausible or improbable, because it is a matter of judicial notice that the travel time from Manila to Davao City, via an airplane, lasts only a maximum of two hours, and with hourly flights available, the probability is high that respondent Duterte had had these two documents notarized and submitted to the offices concerned on the same day,” the Comelec, in its resolution, assumed in the absence of proof from the Duterte camp.

The Comelec also said that Duterte’s first filing of CoC for re-election “does not contradict his bona fide intent to become a candidate for president,” citing rules that provide that a candidate who fielded two or more CoCs “may choose one of which he or she shall be eligible for” and cancel the others via a sworn declaration.

It said that while Diño “erroneous(ly)” wrote “Mayor of Pasay City” in the declaration of candidacy, he used a CoC intended for those who wish to run for president, and had “related documents,” particularly a certificate of nomination and acceptance (Cona) from PDP-Laban, fielding him as its presidential candidate.

Also, it pointed out that Diño is not a resident of Pasay City, and that he filed his CoC with the Comelec law department at the main office in Manila, which only accepted certificates for the positions of President, vice president and senator.

In the resolution dismissing Duterte’s disqualification, the Comelec said that Diño’s intent to run for President was clear despite the error in his CoC.

But isn’t Poe’s intent to run for President much clearer than Diño’s or Duterte’s?

The poll body’s separate resolutions on the disqualification of Duterte and Poe clearly showed that the application of legal provisions could be lenient in form but meticulously strict in substance, regardless if it was an honest mistake.

Meantime, let’s enjoy watching the Supreme Court justices and Poe’s lawyer flesh out arguments on the rights of foundlings, and how Filipino citizen’s natural-born status can be given up for convenience and have it restored, also for convenience and power.


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  1. if she can not fill out a simple form , but wants the highest position in the country, make me laugh…

  2. ##ComelecCommissionerCheat
    Harap-harapan ang pambababoy pambabastos pandaraya ang ginawa ng Comelec Commissioners sa taong-bayan at pambansang eleksyun.
    Para saan pa na kailangan humarap ang mga candidate signatory sa itinakdang time limit kung nagpapalusot sila ng proxy operations? Para saan pa ang pagkaka-iba ng isang valid contract kung pareho rin lang sa isang invalid na contract o COC?
    Nasaan ang tamang prinsipyo sa isang aplikante na hindi pa pasado at talagang ibabasura ay naka-avail pa ng benefit ng pasado?
    Duterte had no legitimate application in principle and only hijacked a soon to be declared nuisance candidate na si Dinio. Out of thin air and out of bounds of Rules and integrity principles the Comelec Commissioners Christian Robert Lim etal produced a COC for duterte!
    So anu na ang Pilipinas na magkarun ng mga Presidente katulad nila Poe? Nila duterte na pinalusot sa butas ng Dugas at dayaan?
    Ganito na ba ang nais ng Bansa ang laging niloloko at ibinibenta?

    Lol mga hidden na bata ni noynoy…

    Dinio was not a legitimated candidate in fact he was an applicant to be trashed as nuisance. Being the fact the Dinio the main and primary signatory fails to pass, Dinio becomes null candidate and the COC void therefore the provisions for other legitimated candidates such in the course of normalcy of substitution cannot be accorded Dinio. The primary candidate applicant signatory and more so a failing applicant would be fraudulent to swith on a function of proxy for anyone, only a legitimated candidate can benefit from the provision of substitution having passed necessary requirements. To accord Duterte as if Duterte applied a COC or made use to replace a soon to be declared failed candidate as proxy would amount to circumvention and numerous moral violations and contrary to the logic of the substitution law intent.
    The party derives its authority from the legitimacy of the candidate and COC, until it is a fact that the candidate and COC are legitmate the party is inert as the candidate status and cannot be accorded any benefit of legitimate candidate provisions because the provisions and benefits are not legally activated. All implementation should be to a COMELEC officially legitimately recognized Candidate Signatory as True legitimated candidate without encumbrance. My pov.
    So it may in effect that the candidacy of Duterte is without a COC application or without a valid application therefore.

    ang pov logic is a COC must be valid and the candidate is accepted as a valid candidate and signatory, a legal requisite to avail of legitimate substitution or for that matter any benefit provision for a legitimated candidate.

    The candidate who had been legitimated by COMELEC even in an event the the party chose to expel the candidate from membership, the candidate still retains the application or legitimate candidacy if ever in time, this is a logical proof that the party is not the primary candidate, Dinio himself is the primary candidate signatory and applicant in question. When the candidate has been legitimated by COMELEC, then the option for substitution by the party is activated ofcourse with the full consent of the primary signatory candidate.

    It is important at this point to identify the true meaning and function of proxying from substitution. my pov.

    Ang mahalaga na konsepto ay Nationalism, hindi pa tunay na bansa at maaaring malusaw ang pagkabansa kung ang isip ay hanggang regionalism lamang.

    Parang ganito ba bloopers
    Dinio: Apply ako kandidato sa pagka-meyor sa Pasay. Ayaw kasi ni duterte tumakbong presidente e.
    Comelec: Okay
    …registration for COC expired..
    Comelec: Dinio nuisance candidate ka for meyor sa Pasay, we are rejecting you as a candidate. Wala kang karapatan bilang kandidato.
    Dinio: Wait, LP ako pinuno namin si Aquino, si duterte kailangan maipasok, kung ako di pwede siya na lang, iyun naman talaga plano namin proxy muna ako hanggang makumbinsi si duterte tumakbo as candidate.
    Comelec: as Meyor?
    Dinio: Pagka-presidente
    Comelec: Okay. Pero hindi pwede may magregister na may gamit na proxy as signatory ang candidate for president. At meyor un inaplayan mo e and we are right now in a decision to reject you as an illegitimate candidate for meyor ng Pasay
    Dinio: Di ba gusto rin ninyo si duterte gawan ninyo ng paraan, pwede raw substitution sabi ng LP. Ipasok ninyo as president.
    Comelec: Okay. Parang pwede kasi may karapatan na ganuon ang lehitimong kandidato. Ikaw Dinio nirereject namin as nuisance candidate. Pero kung ikaw si duterte tatanggapin namin. Gagawin na lang natin pagka-presidente inaplayan mo. Palusutin na lang namin na ganap ka na lehitimo at tunay na kandidato sa pagka-presidente para may mga karapatan ka ng mga pasadong kandidato to avail of substitution para makapasok si duterte na kandidato pagka-presidente. Paso na kasi registration at walang COC si duterte.
    …a month after Comelec accepts duterte…
    So Comelec implied that Dinio was already a legitimized and accepted candidate for presidency before everyone else when he Dinio withdrew to avail of substitution for duterte?

  3. Grace Poe Llamanzares is considered as a naturalized Filipino Citizen due to the legal adoption of a Filipino couple that of Fernando Poe Jr & Susan Roces

  4. I think you has some errors in reporting!. Did ANY mayor went to the COMELEC main office to file their candidacy!

    Only National Election candidates are required to file their candidacy at the COMELEC main office.

    I think you should ask for a copy of the actual application form. But as usual, it was a calculated media gimmick! And that should be the issue of the nuisance candidacy! That PDP laban made a mockery of the COMELEC or election application process! and that the COMELEC was used as a media hype for Duterte!

  5. Duterte’s interest to run for president was caused by his reason that he don’t like the country to be run by an american grace poe. He was irked by the decision of SET.

    Is that the only reason? Wow.

  6. Leodegardo Pruna on

    Poe’s case could not be categorized under “honest” mistake for her repeated lying and changing of position in order to get what she wants. That is proven in her becoming a US citizen renouncing her Philippine citizenship which was not established at that time although by virtue of her being a foundling she has been recognized as a “naturalized” citizen but not a “natural born” citizen which is simply defined in the Philippine Constitution. What disgraced GRACE is trying to do is to lie repeatedly believing probably that repeated lies would become true. Only fools would submit to that. God bless the Philippines.

  7. This is one issue that did not need the Supreme court to rule, hopefully some of our Justices will decide with clarity and i am looking forward read the word of each Justice.