Comelec shouldn’t accept Duterte COC, poll exec says

MANILA, Philippines – Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Rowena Guanzon said the poll body – for now – should not accept the certificate of candidacy (COC) of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

Guanzon was the only person in the 7-member Comelec who dissented from the poll body’s resolution on Thursday, December 17. 

The Comelec on Thursday decided “to acknowledge and accept” Duterte’s COC despite a pending case that could affect his candidacy.

In a note on the Comelec resolution, Guanzon explained, “There is a pending case, Castor v Duterte, wherein the petitioner alleges that Duterte’s COC is void because it contains untruthful acts or misrepresentation.” 

Guanzon was referring to the petition filed by broadcaster Ruben Castor requesting the Comelec to declare the COC of Martin Diño as null and void.

Castor cited an error in Diño’s COC. 

Rappler reported in October that Diño, in his COC, erroneously declared that he is running “for the position of mayor” of Pasay City.

Castor said Duterte, therefore, “should not substitute for Martin Diño whose COC is void, legally inexistent, and without legal effect; hence, substitution shall likewise be void.”

Referring to Duterte, Guanzon added in her marginal note, “There is also the issue regarding his notarized documents, the truth or falsity of which must be determined before his COC is accepted.”

Duterte 'now in list of candidates'

Critics associate Guanzon, a women’s rights advocate, with administration standard-bearer Manuel Roxas II. She's formerly a mayor of Cadiz City and an ex-commissioner of the Commission on Audit. 

The opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) earlier said the ruling Liberal Party might use Guanzon to ensure the victory of Roxas.

Guanzon has denied UNA’s accusation. She has also been confirmed by the Commission on Appointments without opposition senators blocking her confirmation.

Unlike Guanzon, the 6 other members of the Comelec on Thursday voted to accept Duterte’s COC.

Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista, however, explained that this is "entirely without prejudice to the pending disqualification case" against Diño, whom Duterte is substituting for.

He said the decision is also without prejudice to "any other case that may be filed" against Duterte. 

The Comelec chairman explained: "What this means is that he is now in our list of candidates, so that was an administrative decision that the Comelec en banc made. But again, I want to emphasize that this is without prejudice to disqualification cases that have been filed or may be filed against him." –

Paterno R. 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