By Vince Alvic A. F. Nonato, Reporter

Case to declare Diño a nuisance junked as moot

Posted on December 08, 2015

A COMMISSION on Elections (Comelec) panel has cleared away one stumbling block for the belated candidacy of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte, after it dismissed the case to declare his party’s original bet as a nuisance candidate.

Martin B. Diño --
In a five-page resolution, the Comelec Second Division dismissed the motu proprio petition filed by the agency’s Law Department against anti-crime advocate Martin B. Diño, the original Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) candidate.

The three-member tribunal said the case was rendered moot and academic, as it now accepted Mr. Diño’s withdrawal of his certificate of candidacy (CoC) on Oct. 29.

A caveat, however: The granting of his withdrawal was “without prejudice to any future ruling on the validity of the said CoC -- formal or substantial -- that may be raised before the Commission.”

The resolution was signed by Commissioners Al A. Parreño, Arthur D. Lim and Sheriff M. Abas.

Mr. Diño, it may be recalled, named Mr. Duterte to substitute him as the PDP-Laban candidate. He had taken offense at the Law Department’s allegation that he was a mere placeholder for Mr. Duterte, who was then dilly-dallying to the point of missing out on the official CoC filing period.

The tough-talking mayor finally filed his CoC on Nov. 27, weeks behind his rival candidates.

Chairman Andres D. Bautista, however, clarified there was no decision yet on the actual validity of Mr. Duterte’s substitution -- hinged on the issue of whether his predecessor’s candidacy was valid to begin with.

Broadcaster Ruben Castor had petitioned for the cancelation of Mr. Duterte’s candidacy, saying Mr. Diño’s CoC was defective for containing an erroneous declaration that he was running for Pasay City mayor, not president.

Mr. Bautista said this case against Mr. Duterte will be heard first by the Comelec First Division on Dec. 16. The panel is composed of Commissioners Christian Robert S. Lim, Luie Tito F. Guia, and Rowena Amelia “Bing” V. Guanzon.

“Hence, there is no decision yet whether the substitution is valid,” Mr. Bautista said.

Mr. Diño was one of 125 presidential aspirants who were faced with disqualification petitions from the Comelec Law Department for being nuisance candidates.

Mr. Bautista said the Comelec divisions have resolved 100 of those petitions and declared the candidates concerned nuisance candidates. The poll body is well on the way to weeding out the remainder.

Comelec has also granted nine of the 13 cases filed against vice-presidential aspirants (there are a total of 19 candidates).

Meanwhile, 101 of the 129 cases against senatorial aspirants (total: 172) were resolved; 96 of these petitions were granted, while the Comelec ruled in favor of four of the questioned candidates.

“This meant four of them were allowed to run for senator,” Mr. Bautista said, adding another case was elevated to the Comelec en banc after voting resulted in a tie.

Mr. Bautista noted that the Comelec has a deadline of Dec. 15 to come up with the final list of candidates.