Marcos loyalist wants Duterte under KBL
First, his client questioned before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) the certificate of candidacy (COC) of presidential aspirant and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte. Then, he offered to adopt Duterte under his own political party.
This, according to staunch Marcos loyalist and Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL) stalwart Oliver Lozano, was the remedy to Duterte’s pending case at the Comelec.
Lozano’s client, radio broadcaster Ruben Castor, filed a petition asking the Comelec to nullify the COC of Martin Diño, who had indicated that he was running for mayor of Pasay City instead of for President under Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).
The PDP-Laban fielded Duterte as substitute candidate for Diño, who withdrew from the presidential race even before the Comelec could declare him a nuisance candidate.
Lozano argued at Friday’s hearing that should the Comelec rule Diño’s COC as null and void, Duterte’s substitution would also be considered the same.
“There is an available remedy for Duterte (and) that is to seek a willing political party to [adopt him],“ Lozano told Comelec Commissioners Christian Robert Lim, Luie Guia and Rowena Guanzon during the hearing of the Comelec First Division.
“PDP-Laban and KBL can join forces. We want the mayor to be one of those chosen President,” Castor’s lawyer said.
“This might be a side issue, but Mayor Duterte and the petitioner (Castor) and his representations are Brother Guardians. We were first to launch the Duterte-Bongbong (Marcos tandem) for the 2016 elections,” Lozano told the court, referring to Guardians Brotherhood, the controversial fraternity of Filipino soldiers.
While the Comelec had agreed to accept Duterte’s COC in place of Diño as part of its “ministerial function,” the mayor’s presidential bid can still be in jeopardy should the Comelec rule in favor of Castor.
In an interview with reporters, Lozano said the KBL was willing to adopt Duterte as its presidential candidate in lieu of Augusto “Boboy” Syjuco Jr., who has been declared by the Comelec as a nuisance candidate.
Lozano said Syjuco’s being declared as a nuisance candidate was equivalent to a disqualification, which was one of the three grounds for substitution.
But Duterte’s camp disagreed.
“Syjuco was declared a nuisance candidate, thus he could not be substituted,” Duterte’s legal counsel, Vitaliano Aguirre, told reporters.
At the hearing, Guanzon acknowledged that Castor’s petition was a “novel issue,” and that the Comelec should resolve whether a political party can still field a substitute candidate when the original candidate, who is a respondent in nuisance proceedings, withdraws from the elections.
Another issue that must be resolved was whether a COC should be considered void from the beginning if it contains false declarations.
Lim also asked the two camps to submit their respective memorandum on Dec. 28 before the case was submitted for resolution.
The Comelec commissioner said that aside from the merits of the case, the Comelec First Division also had to resolve whether it has jurisdiction over the case, or whether the Comelec en banc should take over the matter in the exercise of its administrative functions.
But Aguirre expressed optimism about the merits of their case. “(O)verall we expect a favorable decision, two is to one, at the worst,” Duterte’s lawyer told the Inquirer in a telephone interview.
“The Comelec acting as a full body had already given course to the COC; we are hopeful of the same decision,” he added.
Six of the seven commissioners voted in favor of Duterte. The lone dissenter, Guanzon, said the matter should not have been tackled by the Comelec since Castor’s case against Duterte was still pending.
But Aguirre said Duterte’s camp had also filed a motion to quash Castor’s petition following the Comelec en banc’s decision to accept the mayor’s COC for presidency in lieu of Diño’s.
PDP-Laban president Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III meanwhile dismissed Castor’s petition as having a “shotgun approach” that cited an “imaginary” procedure.
“The procedure being cited is an implied one. It’s an imaginary one, so what are the rules? What is the time limit of that procedure?” the senator asked. With a report from Nancy C. Carvajal
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