The Commission on Elections on Thursday said that it accepts the Certificate of Candidacy of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte as the presidential candidate for the PDP-Laban in 2016, but said he had to hurdle a pending disqualification case filed by broadcaster Ruben Castor.
“After due deliberation yesterday afternoon, the commission voting 6 to 1, resolved to acknowledge and accept the Certificate of Candidacy for president of Rodrigo R. Duterte being a ministerial function of the commission,” said Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista.
Bautista said the Comelec agreed to include Duterte in the list of candidates for the 2016 elections after he submitted the correct CoC and other documents accepting the nomination of the PDP-Laban as its substitute candidate on Nov. 27.
“What this means is that he is now in our list of candidates. So that was an administrative decision that the Comelec en banc made,” he added.
Bautista said they resolved the matter without prejudice to Duterte’s disqualification case.
Commissioner Rowena Guanzon was the only one who opposed the majority decision to accept Duterte’s CoC.
In her brief dissenting statement, Guanzon said that the Comelec should verify first his CoC since the petitioner had claimed that the documents submitted by Duterte allegedly contained misrepresentations.
She also wrote that there was also an issue regarding Duterte’s notarized documents, the truth or falsity of which must be determined before his CoC is accepted.
In his petition, Castor said Duterte was not qualified to be a substitute for Martin Diño, the PDP-Laban standard bearer, because Diño had filed a certificate to run for mayor of Pasay City.
Castor also alleged that the PDP-Laban could not nominate Duterte as Diño’s substitute since the Davao mayor was not a member of the party.
On Wednesday, Guanzon said that Comelec en banc had subpoenaed the two lawyers who notarized Duterte’s CoC and other documents, despite a decision on Tuesday to submit the petition for resolution.
The 1st Division, headed by Comelec Commissioner Christian Robert Lim, is the one handling the Duterte disqualification case. Its members are Guanzon and Luie Tito Guia.
The 2nd Division earlier dismissed the petition filed by the poll body’s law department to declare Diño a nuisance candidate.
It also granted Diño’s motion to withdraw his CoC and the law department’s subsequent motion to withdraw its petition against him.
Duterte then went to the Comelec office on Dec. 8 to ask if he needs to correct his CoC but the Law Department said that there was no need for him to file another CoC.
Malacañang on Thursday distanced itself from the disqualification case filed against Duterte.
“It is up to the Comelec to decide on issues regarding the CoC,” said Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr., in a text message.
The camp of presidential aspirant Senator Grace Poe said they welcomed the decision of the Comelec to accept Duterte’s CoC.
“As stated before, we believe that in a true democracy, individuals should be allowed to offer themselves to the electorate to serve the country,” said Poe’s spokesperson Valenzuela Mayor Rex Gatchalian.
“People should be allowed to choose their next leaders from a complete list of candidates,” he added.
He noted that in a democracy, the freedom to choose is the most powerful tool of the people.
With this positive decision, Gatchalian said they are hopeful that the Comelec en banc applies consistency in rendering its decision on Poe’s motion for reconsideration, after two divisions voted to disqualify her from the presidential race.
The ruling Liberal Party on Wednesday hailed the Comelec decision, saying it demolished the “Only Mar” scenario peddled by the militant leftist groups and opponents of LP standard bearer Manuel Roxas II.
LP campaign manager House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said the Liberals welcome the Comelec decision and stressed that the ruling “augurs well for giving the electorate more choices for presidential candidates.”
“It is the LP’s position from the start that the more choices for president for the electorate, the better,” Belmonte said.
Senatorial candidate Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, who is one of Duterte’s guest candidates, said the proper judicial bodies should settle all election-related soonest to pave the way for credible, peaceful and honest elections.
“The flurry of election-related cases before the Comelec and the courts creates uncertainty and doubt on the part of candidates and their supporters as well as voters. This is not good at all since by this time we should be focusing already on platforms and what we can offer to the people,” Romualdez said.
LP campaign spokesman Marikina Rep. Miro Quimbo said Roxas will win but not because of a lack of opponents.
“Contrary to what Mar’s opponents have been irresponsibly claiming, the latest decision of the Comelec allowing Duterte’s substitution demolishes the ‘last man standing’ theory being peddled to bring down Mar’s reputation and candidacy,” Quimbo said.
“We all want free, fair, credible and peaceful elections next year. I believe it is imperative to dispose of all pending election-related cases now so that we can concentrate on substantive issues during the campaign period,” said Romualdez, who was also adopted as a guest candidate of Vice President Jejomar Binay, standard bearer of the United Nationalist Alliance.
Romualdez was also one of the “Champion 6” endorsed by the 39-strong Party-List Coalition in the House that promised to deliver 15.5 million votes.
The favorable ruling on Duterte prompted Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares, who is running under the senatorial slate of frontrunner Senator Grace Poe, to press the Comelec to also allow Poe to join the presidential race.
“I just hope that the Comelec would also allow Senator Grace Poe to run as president so that the Filipino people would be the judge of who they want to be president in the elections next year,” Colmenares said.
The militant Anakpawis earlier urged all opposition and non-administration presidential aspirants to unite against and oppose a possible “only Mar” scenario amid the disqualification cases against Poe and Duterte. With Sandy Araneta and Macon Ramos-Araneta
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