Comelec 1st division junks disqualification case vs Duterte

THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) First Division has junked the petition seeking to disqualify Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte from the 2016 presidential race.

Dismissed was the petition of University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman University Student Council (USC) chairman John Paulo delas Nieves, who sought for the cancellation of Duterte’s certificate of candidacy (COC) pointing out that since the COC of former Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) standard-bearer Martin Diño was defective, Duterte’s substitution was invalid.

The decision was made after delas Nieves and his lawyer were a no-show in the preliminary conference on the case.

Sought out for his reaction through his executive assistance Christopher Lawrence Go, the brief reply through text was, “Isa pa lang yun.” The mayor is on leave and is not in the city.

First District Representative Karlo Alexei Nograles, who is supporting the mayor’s bid, lauded the Comelec's decision dismissing the disqualification case.

"We are very happy with the decision of Comelec 1st Division junking the disqualification case against Mayor Rodrigo Duterte for President," Nograles said in his Facebook post on Monday.

He said he was relieved to know that the Comelec is "applying the rule of law correctly" and hopes that the commissioners will maintain their stand with the other disqualification cases filed against the city mayor.

"This is a welcome relief, given the damaging remarks, potshots and mudslinging being hurled against the good commissioners and against their institution by some quarters in this electoral exercise. We hope that everyone can keep calm, cool and collected in the remaining months to come going towards Election Day, confident that Comelec as an institution will defend democracy and the voice of our people," Nograles said.

Based on a CNN Philippines report, Comelec clerk of the commission Abigal Lilagan said that a case for cancellation of COC may be dismissed if the petitioner or his counsel fails to attend the preliminary conference.

Duterte was represented by his lawyers Vitaliano Aguirre and Al Argosino.

Earlier, Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista said the three cases filed before the First Division has been consolidated for having similar grounds, claiming that Duterte had no bona fide candidate to substitute since Dino’s COC was defective.

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