THE Commission on Elections on Monday dismissed the petition of its own legal department to declare PDL-Laban candidate for president Martin Diño a nuisance candidate, removing a major obstacle for Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte to run as his substitute.
The ruling, however, does not mean Duterte is in the clear, since there is still a pending petition against him filed by a broadcaster which the poll body will hear on Dec. 16, Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista said.
Diño withdrew his Certificate of Candidacy on Oct. 29 and asked Duterte to run in his place.
In a resolution released Monday, the Comelec 2nd Division headed by Commissioner Al Pareño said the petition filed by the Comelec Law Department to declare Diño a nuisance candidate and cancel his Certificate of Candidacy as moot and academic.
“With the foregoing development, the relief prayed for in the present petition has become moot and academic, that is, whatever judgement is reached can no longer have practical legal effect, or, in the nature of things, can no longer be enforced,” the resolution said.
The Comelec Law Department earlier filed a petition against Diño after he said in an interview that Duterte was the party’s “first and best option” and that he was ready to withdraw his candidacy if the mayor decided to run.
The Law Department said this made a mockery of the election process and showed Diño had no bonafide intention to run for president.
But Diño withdrew his CoC before the Comelec was able to rule on the petition.
Duterte subsequently withdrew his CoC to run for reelection as Davao mayor and filed his CoC to run for president.
Senator Sergio Osemeña III on Monday said that while the latest Social Weather Stations survey had been commissioned by a Duterte ally, the results seemed to be “realistic.”
“I think Duterte touches a nerve in the psyche of the Filipino voter, especially the D and E voter as called by the pollster. I have seen that. Mayor Duterte truly has clout,” said Osmeña, a Duterte supporter.
Asked if he thought the survey questions might be misleading, Osmeña said “there might be a flaw there.”
Vice presidential aspirant Senator Antonio Trillanes IV on the other hand, slammed SWS for releasing a “rigged and invalid” survey as a propaganda favoring Duterte’s camp.
He added that the survey was conducted before the tough-talking mayor spewed out foul words in his speeches and interviews, particularly against Pope Francis.
Osmeña said he believed Duterte’s remarks against the Pope would have a negative effect on his survey ratings.
“Yes I’m sure it will affect him so he apologized. How permanent the damage will be on the image and reputation of Mayor Duterte, we will not know until the next survey. There might be a temporary dip, a temporary drop in his rating,” Osmeña said.
Trillanes said the question asked in the survey mentioned Duterte’s name, which gave him a leg up.
The respondents were asked “With Rodrigo Duterte on this list as a substitute candidate for President, who would you most likely vote for President if the elections were held today?”
He added that the SWS was notorious for allowing itself to be used as an instrument of propaganda.
Poe, on the other hand, said it was important to listen to and respect the sentiments of the people.
She also acknowledged that the disqualification petitions filed against her have had an impact on her ratings, shifting public attention away from her platform of government.
Her running mate, Senator Francis Escudero, said as long as there are pending cases against Poe, these will have an effect on her standing in pre-election surveys.
The Palace belittled the survey showing Duterte in the lead.
“This is a privately commissioned survey, I understand. So, this is not their usual [survey]. The media have noticed this,” said Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda.
He said surveys were snapshots in time, and the only one that eventually matters is the one in May, just before the elections.
Lacierda added that the administration was not worried about the survey.
“If you have been involved in a campaign as we were in 2010, you will see the numbers go up and down. We are in a marathon, we are not in a sprint. This is not a 100-meter dash,” he said. With Sandy Araneta
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