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Door still open for Duterte run

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Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte. KIMBERLY DE LA CRUZ/INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

DAVAO CITY, Philippines—There they go again.

Martin Diño, the presidential candidate of Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), has withdrawn following a petition by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) legal department to declare him a nuisance candidate.

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With his withdrawal, Diño has asked Davao City Mayor

Rodrigo Duterte to be his substitute in the 2016 presidential race, former North Cotabato Gov. Emmanuel Piñol said on Thursday.

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Piñol is a member of the core group of the Duterte for President Movement.

Duterte could not be reached for comment but he earlier said the possibility of him replacing Diño depended on the decision of PDP-Laban and that the party had until Dec. 10 to decide.

“It is solely a prerogative of the party,” Duterte said in a TV interview last week. “As a party member, I will listen and maybe decide accordingly on what is really good for me or for PDP-Laban.”

He said he would submit to the leadership of PDP-Laban but added the party had to listen also to what he had to say and “I will listen to them.”

“That’s a possibility. I would submit myself to whatever decision the party would make,” Duterte said.

Substitution

He said that the discussions would determine whether a substitution could take place.

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“Maybe me, maybe another person or member,” he said, adding that he had no ambition to become President.

But Duterte said he would “consider what is best for the party.”

On Monday, PDP-Laban passed two resolutions, including one “compelling” Duterte to run as a substitute candidate.

On Tuesday, the Comelec legal department filed a 10-page petition asking the Comelec en banc to declare Diño a nuisance candidate and eventually disqualify him from the presidential race.

Cannot wage national campaign

The petition was signed by Maria Norina Tangaro-Casingal, acting head of the Comelec’s law department, and two other lawyers.

The Comelec legal department argued that Diño should be disqualified because he had put the election process “in mockery or disrepute,” he had no “bona fide intention to run for office,” and there was no clear proof he could “sustain the financial rigors of waging a nationwide campaign.”

 ‘We will fight’

Ismael Sueno, PDP-Laban national chair, said that even with its meager resources, the party “will fight this mockery of the election process tooth and nail.”

Sueno said that if there was a “mockery” of the election process, it was the petition of the Comelec legal department.

“The true intent of a presidential candidate and his capacity to wage a national campaign cannot be determined by just three lawyers of the Comelec,” he said.

Sueno said Diño was the deputy secretary general of PDP-Laban and had moved around the country conducting membership seminars advocating federalism.

‘Best bet’

“It is our inherent right as a political party of good standing, which has participated in national elections since the 1980s, to have a lineup of candidates to field,” Sueno said.

“Our best bet is Mayor Duterte but since he failed to file his COC (certificate of candidacy) as President, the party opted to field Diño.”

Piñol earlier said the cancellation of Diño’s COC “would effectively close the door to Duterte’s expected substitution, (according to) legal experts who gathered at PDP-Laban headquarters in Manila following receipt of the copy of the petition.”

But before the Comelec could make the decision, Diño had withdrawn from the race upon the advice of his lawyers, he said.

Diño names substitute

Sueno said that with Diño out of the race, PDP-Laban had until

Dec. 10 to name another presidential candidate.

Diño, an anticrime advocate, officially withdrew his candidacy for President on Thursday after the Comelec considered declaring him a nuisance candidate.

In a statement of cancellation/withdrawal he filed at the Comelec law department, Diño named Duterte as his substitute.

“I am hereby withdrawing my candidacy for the position of President of the Republic of the Philippines … My substitute shall be Rodrigo ‘Rody’ Duterte, if any,” Diño said in his statement.

He said he had consulted the leadership of PDP-Laban about his decision right after he received the letter from the Comelec.

Comelec to study option

Sought for comment, Comelec Chair Andres Bautista said: “We will study the matter although it is still hypothetical whether someone will substitute for him.”

In a phone interview, Diño said he felt insulted that the Comelec would consider him a nuisance considering that he belonged to a known political party.

“Our party was able to produce a President, Cory Aquino; Vice President, Jejomar Binay; as well as senators,” he said.

“How can I be a nuisance? I used to be a barangay captain and now I’m the chair of Volunteer Against Crime and Corruption (VACC),” he added.

Eight times

Diño said he felt insulted by the Comelec legal department’s assertion that he did not have enough funds to run a nationwide campaign.

Diño told the Inquirer: “The law only requires a presidential aspirant to be a Filipino resident, must be 40 years old and above, has to be a resident of the Philippines for at least 10 years and knows how to read and write. It doesn’t state that you have to be rich. The party will support you if they see you have the characteristics to lead the country. Our party saw this in me. Now, you will deprive our party?”

Yet to take up offer

Duterte has yet to take up PDP-Laban’s offer.

Since 2014, Duterte has denied at least eight times that he plans to run for President, saying among other things that he does not have the money to finance such a campaign.

On Sept. 30, he said that if he changed his mind, he would declare his presidential candidacy in Davao City, where he began his political career.

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TAGS: Andres Bautista, Comelec, Commission on Elections, duterte, Duterte for President Movement, Elections 2016, Emmanuel Piñol, Martin Dino, Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan, PDP-Laban, Rodrigo Duterte
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