By Janina C. Lim

Comelec clears Duterte substitution of Diño

Posted on December 18, 2015

THE COMMISSION on Elections (Comelec), voting 6-1, has cleared Davao City Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte’s substitution of anti-crime advocate Martin B. Diño as presidential candidate of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipinas-Lakas ng Bayan.

Davao Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte -- AFP
“Well I think that what this means is that he is now in our official list of candidates,” Comelec Chairman Andres D. Bautista said, as he also qualified that the poll body’s accepting the certificate of substitution is “administrative in nature.”

But this matter is separate from the Nov. 27 petition to cancel Mr. Duterte’s candidacy filed by broadcaster Ruben Castor, as Mr. Bautista also noted.

The petition challenges as invalid Mr. Diño’s certificate of candidacy (CoC) for president. That form, to be sure, includes a curious portion on the filing of a mayoral candidacy that Mr. Diño filled up, indicating he would run for Pasay City mayor.

The Comelec’s First Division is expected to deliberate on this petition today.

Valenzuela City Mayor Rexlon T. Gatchalian for his part said the camp of Senator Grace Poe welcomes the Comelec decision regarding Mr. Duterte.

“As stated before, we believe that in a true democracy, individuals should be allowed to offer themselves to the electorate to serve the country [and] people should be allowed to choose their next leaders from a complete list of candidates,” said Mr. Gatchalian, spokesman of the Poe camp.

Mr. Gatchalian expressed the hope the Comelec will also be “consistent” in deciding on Ms. Poe’s period of residency in her CoC, which is different from the residency indicated in her CoC when she ran for senator in 2013.

“In this case (the poll body’s clearing Mr. Duterte’s substitution), they accepted the ‘mistake’ of Mr. Diño, hence we believe that they should be consistent and accept [Ms. Poe’s] ‘honest mistake’ in her 2013 CoC when she ran for senator,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ms. Poe also petitioned the Comelec yesterday to consolidate the motions for reconsideration (MR) on the separate rulings by the poll body’s two divisions disqualifying her from the presidential race.

The request is intended “to save precious time without compromising the parties’ rights to administrative process,” the petition read. It also seeks to consolidate the disqualification cases against Ms. Poe.

This way, the petition added, the Comelec may “more effectively” resolve controversies regarding her candidacy which will aid the poll body in its objective of finalizing the official list of candidates.

Not consolidating the disqualification cases would require Ms. Poe and/or her legal counsel to attend separate hearings before the Supreme Court twice when these cases reach the high court, her lawyer George Erwin M. Garcia said earlier this week.

“What’s important is that we ask that they [the Comelec] be procedurally correct,” Mr. Garcia added, adding that his client will accept any decision by the poll body.

Mr. Bautista said in a press conference yesterday the petition will be tackled in the en banc.