THERE’S no turning back for Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who said Monday he will definitely run for President in 2016 with Senator Alan Peter Cayetano as his running mate.
“There’s nothing that would change my mind. I have already crossed the rubicon,” Duterte told reporters Monday after a press conference in Greenhills, San Juan.
“Whether the [Commission on Elections] would accept it or not, I don’t worry. I don’t know how my lawyers would fix the problem but my lawyers will soon sort it out. There should be a proper step on that.”
Duterte again said his disappointment over the Senate Electoral Tribunal decision to dismiss the disqualification case against Senator Grace Poe prompted him to run.
“As a matter of principle, I can’t accept that. I don’t want a person who’s half-American, half-Filipino [to be the next President],” he said, refusing to acknowledge that Poe, who was a foundling, can be considered a natural-born Filipino citizen, a requirement for being senator or President.
Election lawyer Romulo Macalintal on Wednesday said Duterte’s eventual move to become the substitute presidential candidate of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) would face legal challenges.
First, he said, the PDP-Laban candidate, Martin Diño, made an error in his certificate of candidacy, which stated he was running for mayor of Pasay City.
Second, he said, was the Comelec law department’s plan to consider Diño a nuisance candidate.
“Even if he’s saying that he has withdrawn his candidacy, the Comelec has to resolve if Diño is a nuisance candidate’’ Macalintal said.
If he is declared a nuisance candidate, his certificate of candidacy would be considered null and void, and Duterte would not be able to step in as his substitute, the lawyer added.
‘’The existing jurisprudence of Supreme Court says that if the COC would be cancelled or denied due course, the person who denied his COC cannot be replaced,” he said.
Duterte confirmed that Cayetano would be his running mate. Even before the Davao mayor had declared his intention to run, Cayetano supporters had been putting up posters of the two.
“I would campaign for Duterte whatever happens. It’s only a bonus if he wants to work with me. The bigger the sacrifice, the bigger the reward is,” Cayetano said.
He added that he was grateful that Duterte chose him, because this would boost his campaign to be vice president.
PDP-Laban president Senator Aquilino Pimentel III said Duterte would certainly be his party’s candidate for President.
“From what I’ve heard, it’s 100 percent that he will run. As far as I’m concerned, he will not backtrack,” Pimentel said.
Pimentel added that PDP-Laban has already signed a new certificate of nomination for Duterte, which he will file with the Comelec to substitute the mayor for Diño.
The Comelec allows the substitution of candidates until Dec. 10.
Pimentel also dismissed the error in Diño’s COC as a clerical error, noting that the Comelec has listed him as a presidential candidate.
“There was an effort in the [Comelec] legal department to declare him [Diño] a nuisance candidate for president, [but] that has been overcome. That minor clerical error has been overcome by the Comelec’s own actions,” Pimentel said.
He added there is no problem in Duterte’s choosing Cayetano as his running mate.
Cayetano, who filed his candidacy for vice president as an independent candidate, has been trying to convince Duterte to run for President.
Poe said she was not surprised by Duterte’s entry into the presidential race, saying she believed he had intended to run all along.
Regarding Duterte’s impact on the race, she added: “Anybody entering the race is a game changer.”
Asked if she had ill feeling toward Duterte for attacking her citizenship, Poe said that was personal.
“I think a leader, particularly one who is running should focus on what he can do for the country. Whatever our opinion, we should keep it to ourselves for now. What’s important to me is that I am truthful. My parents told me to help others and respect my elders,” Poe said.
Poe also denied Duterte’s claim that she offered to be his vice president during a meeting with him at her Corinthian Garden residence in Quezon City earlier this year.
“That’s not true. That never happened,” Poe said.
She said they talked about the last election, when Duterte helped her with her senatorial campaign, and some personal matters.
Poe’s running mate, Senator Francis Escudero said Poe was hurt by the criticism aimed at her, but would be able to face all of these issues because the truth and the law are on her side.
Also on Monday, House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. said he wished Duterte “good luck.”
“The message of Mayor Duterte is law and order, running after the guilty, and that certainly resonates with a lot of people, including myself. I wish him luck,” Belmonte told reporters, adding that Duterte’s joining the presidential race will have “some effect on the playing field.”
“I don’t like to use the word game changer, but definitely he will have some effect,” said Belmonte, who is campaign manager of the Liberal Party’s standard-bearer Manuel Roxas II.
Belmonte also played down Duterte’s threat to kill criminals or anyone who goes against law and order.
“He is exaggerating his message. He is not going to shoot at people. He is just saying let’s have law and order,” Belmonte said.
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