Citing social ties that bind them, a party-list lawmaker on Wednesday claimed that Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has another way to sneak into next year’s presidential race–by substituting for his fraternity brother and law school upperclassman, Roy Señeres.
“Substituting for Señeres is more legally ideal because the certificate of candidacy that
[Martin] Diño filed is problematic. They [Duterte and Señeres] are fraternity brothers. Even if they are not partymates, Congressman Seneres’ party can adopt a non-member who can substitute him,” 1-BAP party-list Rep. Silvestre Bello 3rd said.
Bello, a former Justice secretary, weighed in on the legality of Duterte’s plan to become a substitute standard-bearer of PDP-Laban after its original bet, Diño, withdrew his COC.
Diño’s COC was also questioned for purportedly having indicated that he’s running for mayor of Pasay City.
Diño, chairman of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption and a former barangay captain of Quezon City, filed his certificate of candidacy as a candidate of PDP-Laban at the last minute after the party’s choice, Duterte, failed to show up at the Comelec on the last day of filing of COC last October 16.
The immediate past chairman of the Comelec, Sixto Brillantes Jr., and election law expert Romulo Macalintal earlier gave contrasting views whether the substitution provisions under the Omnibus Election Code would allow Duterte to take Diño’s place as a presidential candidate.
Bello said Duterte and Señeres were graduates of San Beda College and belong to the same fraternity–the Lex Talionis Fraternitas. They also come from Mindanao. Señeres grew up in Davao City and Butuan City.
Señeres, the country’s former ambassador to the United Arab Emirates and an incumbent party-list congressman who was among those who filed a COC for President, immediately shot down Bello’s idea.
“No truth to the rumor I’m giving in to my brod, Mayor Duterte. We have major policy differences,” he told The Manila Times.
Señeres said he is clearly at odds with Duterte mainly on two things: status of Sen. Grace Poe’s citizenship and Duterte’s stance on killing criminals.
“In the case of Senator Poe, I believe all doubts about her citizenship should be resolved in her favor. Besides, I am pro-life. The mayor is pro-death,” he added.
Duterte has taken a jab at Poe, arguing that the senator’s ascent to Malacañang is as good as having an American President because Poe once acquired American citizenship.
Instead of throwing support behind his fraternity brother, Señeres called on Duterte to drop his presidential dream and sought the Davao City mayor’s support.
“I will ask [Brother] Rudy to defer to my candidacy. After all, I am the founding chairman of our fraternity, which I founded in 1969 together with Supreme Court Justices Bienvenido Reyes and Jose Mendoza and Sandiganbayan Justice Rody Ponferrada,” he said.
“He can support my candidacy since I am also for federalism and a Mindanaoan. I was only four months old when our family migrated to Mindanao, I am still a resident of Butuan City until now,” Señeres added.
Up to Comelec
Malacañang on Wednesday said it is only the Commission on Elections (Comelec) that could decide whether Duterte can still join the presidential race.
“The issue of a substitute candidate is a matter entirely left to the Comelec, a constitutional commission which exercises its jurisdiction independent from the executive branch,” Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda said in a text message.
With CATHERINE. S. VALENTE