SC junks quo warranto plea vs Duterte

MANILA. President Rodrigo Duterte talks to the media prior to a welcome ceremony for visiting Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena Wednesday, January 16, 2019, at the Presidential Palace grounds in Manila. (AP)

THE Supreme court (SC) has denied the quo warranto petition lodged against President Rodrigo Duterte by perennial nuisance presidential candidate Elly Pamatong due to lack of legal standing and the lapse of prescribed period for taking legal action.

The high tribunal, in its en banc ruling, said Pamatong, a suspended lawyer who claimed to have won the 2016 presidential race, filed the quo warranto plea against Duterte on June 6, 2018, nearly two years since Duterte assumed the country's highest post.

However, such petition can only be filed until June 30, 2017, or just for a year since Duterte took office on June 30, 2016.

"Petitioner's right to hold the disputed office, if at all, arose on June 30, 2016, when respondent was inaugurated as the 16th President of the Republic of the Philippines. Following this, petitioner's cause of action prescribed on June 30, 2017," the high court said in a seven-page resolution.

On June 6, 2018, Pamatong filed a quo warranto petition, questioning Duterte's "capacity" to serve as the country's president.

Pamatong also called Duterte a "usurper," as the Chief Executive allegedly filed an "illegal" certificate of candidacy for the May 9, 2016 presidential race.

Duterte, then substitute candidate for Partido Demokratiko Pilipino Lakas ng Bayan partymate Martin Diño, ended up winning the 2016 presidential elections after being elected by more than 16 million voters.

Malacañang earlier downplayed Pamatong's quo-warranto petition against Duterte as "utterly bereft of legal and actual merit."

The SC, in its decision, also stressed that Pamatong "lacks the legal standing to bring an action for quo warranto."

The high court noted that a person who files a quo warranto petition "must be able to substantiate a personal stake in the outcome of the controversy he brings for determination."

"He must be himself claiming entitlement to the presidency which he alleged is being usurped by respondent," it said.

"Other than his bare declaration that he 'took an oath as caretaker President of the Philippines, and assumed the Presidency on June 30, 2016,' the petitioner failed to corroborate such claims which nonetheless, are demonstrable belied by the results of the 2016 elections," it added.

The court also noted that although Pamatong filed a candidacy for the 2016 presidential race, it was disapproved by the Commission on Elections after being declared nuisance candidate.

Pamatong's disqualification was affirmed with finality by the court on January 12, 2016.

"There is, therefore, no factual basis for petitioner's assertion of a personal claim to the position of the President," the high court said. (SunStar Philippines)


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