Duterte critic appeals tag as nuisance Senate bet

MANILA, Philippines – Senatorial hopeful Jude Josue Sabio, the lawyer who filed a complaint against President Rodrigo Duterte before the International Criminal Court (ICC), appealed the petition of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) law department to declare him a nuisance candidate. 

"It will not look good in the eyes of the nation and the world that I, as the first Filipino lawyer internationally and nationally known to have lodged the first historic complaint in the ICC against President Duterte and his allies, is being treated as a nuisance," Sabio said in an 18-page comment obtained by Rappler.

"It certainly will not sit well with the country and the world that a legal archenemy of President Duterte is unceremoniously being deprived of meaningful participation in the electoral process," he added.

Sabio sent this comment to the Comelec via courier late Tuesday afternoon, November 13, and he expects this to reach the poll body on Wednesday, November 14.

Sabio is among 95 personalities – including former Consultative Committee spokesperson Conrado "Ding" Generoso and pro-life advocate Rizalito David – whom the Comelec law department wants the poll body to classify as nuisance senatorial bets. Comelec commissioners will have the final say after subjecting them to hearings and evaluating their cases.

Section 69 of the Omnibus Election Code defines nuisance candidates as those who file COCs "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 public office.

Common grounds for declaring a candidate a "nuisance" is his or her failure to show "financial capability" to wage an electoral campaign, or his or her lack of national prominence.

In his appeal, Sabio noted his interviews with various media outlets, including Rappler, ABS-CBN, GMA-7, and CNN Philippines, as well as the support shown by netizens. He said though his legal work for the past two years, he attained "a high degree of national prominence, which the Comelec is duty-bound to consider." 

"Unlike in 2016 when I was nationally obscure and Comelec correctly declared me as a nuisance, which I readily accepted, this time I am not coming just out of national obscurity in filing my certificate of candidacy," Sabio said.

Sabio on April 24 filed a complaint against Duterte before the ICC for alleged "mass murder" in the Philippines. He cited the murder of at least 1,400 people by the alleged Davao Death Squad when Duterte was Davao City mayor, and the killing of thousands more during Duterte's presidency. Rappler.com

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.

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