MANILA, Philippines – Will the possibility of a substitution candidate dim for the PDP-Laban which had previously said it was eyeing Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte as its presidential standard-bearer?
This was the question that popped in the minds of those who spotted a glaring error in the certificate of candidacy (COC) filed at the last minute by party-member Martin Diño on October 16, the last day for filing of COCs.
Diño's candidacy was seen to be a last-ditch effort to push for a Duterte presidential candidacy since rules of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) allow for substitutions until December 10.
Section 19 of Comelec Resolution No. 9984 says that a candidate may be substituted by another from the same political party or coalition. The substitute may file his or her COC for the same position on or before December 10, 2015, but only after the original candidate has withdrawn his COC.
A copy of Diño's COC, obtained by Rappler from the Comelec, appears to be for a presidential candidacy.
The form is for a "Certificate of Candidacy for President." But in the box below the instructions area, the text reads, "I hereby announce my candidacy for the position of MAYOR, City/Municipality of Pasay City...in the May 09, 2016 National and Local Elections." (See below)
This is markedly different from the COC filed by Vice President Jejomar Binay, among the first to file candidacies for president. Binay was also a former member of PDP-Laban. In the form, Binay indicates: "I hereby announce my candidacy for the position of PRESIDENT, Republic of the Philippines..." (See below)
In Diño's COC, there was also an added field in the "Period of Residence in the Philippines" section, which asks for the aspirant's years and months of residency in the provided city/municipality.
Diño entered "58 years and 9 months" in those fields, the same information he provided, for the period of his residence in the country.
The field for residency in a city/municipality is not found in the COC form for presidential aspirants, where only his or her period of residence in the Philippines is sought.
In addition, Diño declared that his residence is in Quezon City, and that he is a registered voter of Quezon City, contrary to the "Pasay City" he indicated at the top of the form.
Diño signed the COC form, which was sworn to before a notary public. The Comelec received it at 4:54 pm on October 16. He was the 128th out of 130 aspirants to file a COC for president from October 12 to 16.
Up to en banc
In a phone interview, a staff at the Comelec Law Department said it will be up to the Comelec en banc to decide on the matter, saying that their department had already reported their evaluation of the COCs of national post hopefuls to the body.
The staff member added that Diño's certificate of nomination and acceptance (CONA), an attachment to his COC, states that he was nominated by the PDP-Laban to run for president.
Meanwhile, the PDP-Laban party has yet to respond to Rappler's questions as of this posting.
Duterte has repeatedly said he will not run for president. He chose to run for reelection as Davao City mayor in 2016 instead, as proven by the COC he filed on October 15 through a representative.
Diño, chairman of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC), has likewise denied that he is standing in for Duterte, explaining that he had planned to run for president "a long time ago."
However, Duterte's supporters, including vice presidential candidate Alan Peter Cayetano, remain hopeful that he will be part of the 2016 presidential derby. – with a report from Gerard Lim/Rappler.com