Comelec eyes Duterte ‘placeholder’ as nuisance bet

Paterno Esmaquel II
This 'would effectively close the door' on Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s 'expected substitution' for Diño, says a campaign insider

AT STAKE. The possible presidential bid of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte is at stake as Martin Diño, widely considered as his 'placeholder,' faces a disqualification plea. File photo by Karlos Manlupig

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is considering to declare presidential aspirant Martin Diño, widely seen as a “placeholder” for Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, as a nuisance bet in the 2016 polls.

Rappler confirmed in an inquiry with the Comelec’s law department on Wednesday, October 28, that PDP-Laban’s Diño is among the 125 presidential candidates that Comelec lawyers sought to disqualify.

The Comelec en banc, or the poll body’s commissioners sitting as a whole, is set to tackle the Comelec law department’s petition. 

The Comelec en banc will have the final say on nuisance candidates.

The Omnibus Election Code defines a nuisance candidate as someone who files a COC “to put the election process in mockery or disrepute or to cause confusion among the voters by the similarity of the names of the registered candidates or by other circumstances or acts which clearly demonstrate that the candidate has no bona fide intention to run for the office for which the certificate of candidacy has been filed, and thus prevent a faithful determination of the true will of the electorate.”

PDP-Laban national chairman Mike Sueño, for his part, said their camp has received the Comelec’s 10-page letter seeking to declare Diño as a nuisance bet. 

Diño camp to answer Comelec 

Sueño told Rappler that their camp will reply to the law department’s petition at the latest by Friday, October 30. 

Diño, chairman of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, questioned the Comelec’s petition, according to a report on TV5.

Diño said: “Hindi ba ‘pagka nuisance candidate ka, ‘yung ‘pinadala ka ng alien? ‘Yung wala kang backing? Meron akong political party. Meron akong backing sa buong Pilipinas.

(Aren’t you a nuisance candidate when you’re the sort who was sent by an alien? Or you don’t have backing? I have a political party. I have the backing of the whole Philippines.)

Referring to the incumbent President’s mother, Corazon “Cory” Aquino, the PDP-Laban candidate added, “We produced a president, in the person of President Cory Aquino.”  

In a Facebook post, a Duterte camp insider added that the Davao City mayor’s possible presidential bid is “imperilled” because of the Comelec lawyers’ petition.

Manny Piñol, who belongs to Duterte’s inner circle, said cancelling Diño’s COC “would effectively close the door” on Duterte’s “expected substitution” for Diño.

Diño mocking election process?

He quoted the Comelec petition as saying it is “clear” that Diño filed his COC “to put the election process in mockery or disrepute…and that he has no bona fide intention to run for office.”

“The respondent, in several media interviews, openly admitted that he was filing his COC for president because Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte did not show up and failed to file his COC for the presidency on the last day of filing thereof,” according also to the Comelec law department petition, cited by Piñol.

Diño faces another problem because he submitted the wrong COC, where he declared, in one portion, that he is running for mayor of Pasay City.

The Comelec, however, explained that a substitute could take the “slot” of a political party’s bet if the poll body disqualifies the original candidate.

The Comelec law department earlier moved to disqualify 125 bets, or 96% of the record-breaking 130 people who filed certificates of candidacy (COCs) for president.

This means only 5 candidates don’t face petitions to be declared nuisance bets. 

The Comelec has refused to publicize the names of these 5 candidates.

There have been 4 leading candidates for the presidency in 2016: Vice President Jejomar Binay, Senator Grace Poe, former interior secretary Manuel Roxas II, and Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago. – with reports from Pia Ranada/Rappler.com

Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.