Edu Manzano still a legit bet, lawyer insists | Inquirer News
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Edu Manzano still a legit bet, lawyer insists

/ 05:14 AM May 09, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — The embattled candidate for San Juan City’s lone congressional seat, actor Eduardo “Edu” Manzano, tried on Wednesday to put a positive spin on a ruling of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) that could derail his political plans days before the midterm polls.

In his first press conference since the poll body’s Second Division cancelled his certificate of candidacy (CoC) on the grounds that he was not a Filipino citizen, Manzano boasted that follower counts on his social media pages have been going up since Monday.

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Big positive

“More people have been attending our rallies, too. Everyone wants to know if I am still running,” he said. “It cuts both ways, but it has been a big positive for me and the party.”

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“Edu Manzano is still a legitimate candidate,” his lawyer, former Comelec chair Sixto Brillantes Jr., told reporters. He said they would file a motion for reconsideration within the week, which meant the Comelec decision would not be final before Election Day on May 13.

Manzano said he believed the case would ultimately reach the Supreme Court, a process that would likely take months and could lead to a long period of postelection tumult should he get more votes than his opponent, incumbent Rep. Ronaldo Zamora.

The entertainment stalwart is running on the ticket of Vice Mayor Janella Ejercito Estrada, who is hoping to replace outgoing Mayor Guia Gomez. Zamora’s son, former Vice Mayor Francis Zamora, is seeking to deny Estrada the chance to continue her family’s 50-year hold on the city’s highest post.

Trying to regain his footing in the race, Manzano attacked the elder Zamora, accusing him of being behind the disqualification petition.

“I can see politics written all over the case,” Manzano said.

Brillantes, meanwhile, criticized the agency he once headed, saying he believed the two commissioners who voted against Manzano were politically motivated as well.

“Why would they publicly release this decision on May 6, knowing it would not be final before May 13?” Brillantes said. “It appears they wanted to help out his weak opponent.”

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In its resolution, the Comelec pointed to Commonwealth Act No. 63, which states that serving in a foreign country’s military is grounds for losing one’s Philippine citizenship. Manzano, who was born in the United States, served in its military between 1973 and 1977.

According to the Comelec, Manzano failed to reacquire his Philippine citizenship upon his return to the country.

Brillantes’ opinion

Brillantes, in a preview of how they would try to contest the decision, appeared to suggest on Wednesday that the US military was an exemption to the law.

Because the Philippines was a US colony when the measure was passed in 1936, he said the United States should not be counted as a “foreign” military under the law.

Manzano’s citizenship was first questioned in 1998 when he ran for Makati vice mayor. While the Supreme Court ruled in his favor then, the decision did not take his military service into account.

“The campaign, regardless of the size of San Juan, [has] been bloody,” Manzano said. “So now, I’m reliving 1998 again.”

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TAGS: 2019 elections, Comelec, disqualification case, Edu Manzano, San Juan mayoralty race
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