Duterte: All systems go
COMELEC JUNKS ALL DQ CASES VS DAVAO MAYOR
Nancy Carvajal and Tina G. Santos
February 4, 2016
With protests against his candidacy out of the way, it is now full steam ahead for presidential aspirant Rodrigo Duterte.
“I am now an official candidate, I will participate in presidential debates and I am prepared to debate with them,” the Davao City mayor said hours after the Commission on Elections (Comelec) dismissed petitions seeking to disqualify him from the May elections.
“I will campaign extensively and I can now accept contributions, but with certain conditions, such as the money must come from legitimate sources, and from those who have no business transactions with the government,” Duterte told the Inquirer.
“The punisher will live to die another day,” a smiling Commissioner Christian Robert Lim remarked in announcing the ruling of the Comelec First Division, which handled the cases against Duterte, and which he chaired. He obviously was referring to Duterte’s no-nonsense campaign to clear his city of criminals and drug lords.
In a press conference, Lim said the decision was unanimous in denying the four petitions against Duterte due to lack of merit.
“He is a candidate as we speak and we are now in the process of finalizing the list of candidates,” Comelec Chair Andres Bautista said.
The consolidated cases against Duterte were filed by broadcaster Ruben Castor, UP student leader JP delas Nieves and presidential aspirants Ely Pamatong and Rizalito David, who both had been declared by the Comelec as nuisance candidates and disqualified.
All four petitions principally questioned the validity of Duterte’s substitution for former Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Laban ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) standard-bearer Martin Diño, on grounds of Diño’s certificate of candidacy (COC) for President was invalid.
Diño claimed he inadvertently placed in the COC he was running for mayor of Pasay City instead of President.
In its 50-page resolution issued Wednesday, the Comelec first division noted that Diño had filed a valid COC for President, which meant that Duterte had also filed a valid COC for President as Diño’s substitute—both being PDP-Laban members.
“The Commission First Division finds no material misrepresentations in respondent Duterte’s COC for President, and hence, it is valid and it gives rise to a valid candidacy,” the resolution said.
The division resolved to dismiss the petition filed by Castor and Delas Nieves against Duterte for their failure to appear in the preliminary conference of their respective cases.
The decision also pointed out that Pamatong had failed to present any evidence to prove his claim that Duterte should be declared a nuisance candidate.
Bautista said the petitioners would be given five days to appeal the decision to the full commission.
Duterte, who just came from a farmers’ forum at the University of the Philippines, earlier said that he would not attend presidential debates until the Comelec had resolved his cases. He changed his mind after he received the news of the Comelec ruling at his national headquarters along Edsa in Greenhills, San Juan.
An initial survey on a Duterte candidacy commissioned by a Davao businessman and conducted by the Social Weather Stations showed him a presidential front-runner for his efforts to transform his crime-ridden city into one of the world’s safest urban centers. But after his expletive-laden speech at the launch of his presidential bid Nov. 30, cursing Pope Francis for causing mammoth traffic jams during his visit a year ago, Duterte’s ratings fell.
He also has a running word war with former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, challenging the administration Liberal Party standard-bearer to a slapping or boxing match for disputing that Davao is one of the world’s safest cities.
Duterte is running on a platform of moving the country toward a federal system, wiping out criminals and drug lords, and eliminating corruption in government.