Duterte asks Comelec body to junk disqualification case

SAYING the issue is now moot and academic, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte asked the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Monday to dismiss one of the three petitions seeking to stop his presidential bid in May 2016.

Duterte said in a memorandum to the Comelec First Division that the petition of broadcaster Ruben Castor should no longer be entertained because his certificate of candidacy (COC) was already accepted by the poll body on December 17.

Duterte replaced anti-crime advocate Martin Diño as Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) standard-bearer in the 2016 polls.

Castor, however, said the substitution was illegal due to an error committed by Diño when he filed a COC for mayor of Pasay City instead of president last October.

“Notwithstanding the ‘without prejudice’ qualification made in the (en banc) resolution, the acceptance by the Comelec en banc of Duterte’s COC deals a death blow to the petition in this case as well as other petitions seeking to disqualify Duterte, predicated on the ground that the COC of Diño is ‘null and void’ due to the alleged errors in his COC,” the memorandum said.

“By accepting the COC of Duterte, the Comelec en banc did recognize that a valid substitution of candidacy for the position of President had taken place by operation of law between Diño as the withdrawing candidate and Duterte as the substitute candidate,” it added.

Duterte also noted the offer of Castor for him to run under the latter’s political party, Kilusang Bagong Lipunan, as proof that he is a qualified candidate for president.

“In short, the petition made no allegations of any wrongdoing committed by Duterte and sought no specific relief as against said [respondent Duterte]. A prayer or dismissal of a complaint for lack of cause of action may be granted if a claim for relief does not exist,” the memorandum added.

Duterte filed on November 27 his COC for president as substitute for Diño after the latter withdrew from the race.

Castor then lodged a disqualification case against Duterte at the poll body. Defeated senatorial candidate Rizalito David and student leader John Paulo de las Nieves followed suit. (FP/Sunnex)

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