UP student, 21, challenges ‘The Punisher’ in Comelec

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

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UP student, 21, challenges ‘The Punisher’ in Comelec
John Paulo delas Nieves, who chairs the UP Diliman student council, claims receiving threats from Rodrigo Duterte’s supporters

MANILA, Philippines – A 21-year-old student, the son of a vegetable vendor and a tricycle driver, is challenging “The Punisher.”

The student, John Paul delas Nieves, faced the cameras for the first time on Tuesday, January 12, regarding his petition against Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.

Delas Nieves, chairman of the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman Student Council, on Tuesday filed an appeal before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on his case against Duterte, also known as “The Punisher.”

This comes after Delas Nieves failed to attend a hearing on Monday, January 11, on his petition to cancel Duterte’s candidacy for president. He filed this petition on December 22, 2015.

Explaining his absence, Delas Nieves said he had been in Duterte’s turf, Davao City, for a meeting or conference since January 5. 

His lawyer Sheila Bazar, on the other hand, was 15 minutes late for the hearing on Monday. She said she “had been attending to her sick brother” for the past two weeks.

Because of their failure to attend the hearing on time, Delas Nieves’ petition “was summarily dismissed” by the Comelec’s first division, Bazar said, quoting the Comelec’s clerk of court.

After filing his motion for reconsideration, Delas Nieves faced reporters to talk about the petition he filed.

Receiving threats 

Delas Nieves said his petition prompted Duterte’s supporters to send him threats on Facebook.

He described these as not the usual death threats.

Nakalagay doon, sana mamatay ka na, sana magahasa ‘yung girlfriend mo, sana manakawan ka. Lahat ng taong nagbibigay ng threat ay ‘sana.’ Ibig sabihin hindi nila kayang gumawa ng kasamaan sa sarili nilang mga kamay,” he told reporters.

(It says, “I hope you die, I hope your girlfriend is raped, I hope you’re robbed. All people who make threats say “I hope.” This means they’re incapable of doing evil on their own.)

He added: “‘Yun ang kakaiba dito eh, kasi para sa kanila, merong ibang puwedeng gumawa noon. At hahayaan na lang nila kung sino man ‘yung pinuno na parusahan kung sino man ‘yon sa paanong paraan ang gusto niya.” 

(That’s what’s different here, because for them, another person can do that for them. And they will let whoever that leader is to punish whoever in any way he wishes.)

He said he’s not sure if the threats against him have Duterte’s blessings.

Duterte as inspiration

He’s sure, however, that his supporters take their “inspiration” from “The Punisher.” 

Inuulit ko, wala mang basbas pero ito ‘yung inspirasyon na ibinibigay niya,” Delas Nieves said. (But of course, I will repeat, it may not have his blessings but this is the inspiration he gives.)

Dahil harap-harapan niya kayang sabihin na papatayin kita, ‘yung mga sumusuporta sa kanya ay pareho rin ‘yung pagtingin sa kung paano magbigay ng hustisya sa mga hindi nila kasundo,” he added.

(Because he can directly say, “I will kill you,” his supporters have the same views on how to impose justice on people who disagree with them.)

Delas Nieves, who lives in Mandaluyong, is a first year masteral student of urban and regional planning at UP. He holds a bachelor’s degree in economics. 

Duterte, whom he wants disqualified, is known for a strongman type of leadership associated with extrajudicial killings. (READ: Duterte: I killed 700? No, make that 1,700)

During his recent visit to Cebu, however, Duterte back-pedaled and said there is no honor in these types of killings. (READ: Duterte denounces extra-judicial killing: No honor in it– Rappler.com

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Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering 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 pat.esmaquel@rappler.com