CAVITE (UPDATED) - After months of giving mixed signals about his presidential bid, Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday said he is finally going to run for the country's top post.
During a party in Dasmariñas, Cavite, the feisty mayor said he decided to join the 2016 race after the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) voted against a petition to disqualify Senator Grace Poe on the grounds of her citizenship.
He said running for president is now ''on the table'' because the SET decision on Poe's case triggered him to think about his principles.
"What made me decide to run? Was it an offer for money? No. Gusto ko lang sabihin sa lahat stop (expletive) with the Filipinos… I have nothing against Grace but if you run for the highest post in the land…it must be reserved for a true-blue Filipino,'' Duterte said.
"If ever you make it, you will be a presumptive president by citizenship. Hindi ko matanggap yung ganun. What will happen when she is disqualified because she is American? Give me an Igorot, an Aeta, a plumber. Kahit ano basta Pilipino.''
Duterte also challenged Poe to produce her birth mother to prove that she is Filipino. He said he would gladly campaign for Poe if she is able to prove that she is a natural-born Filipino.
''Ilabas mo ang nanay mo, then I will withdraw. I will campaign. Ilabas mo na kung sino ang nanay mo,'' he said.
Voting 5-4, the SET rejected the petition of losing 2013 senatorial bet Rizalito David who said Poe must be disqualified because she is not a natural-born Filipino. David has argued that Poe is not a natural-born Filipino because of her status as a foundling.
Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio, chairman of the SET, earlier said that Poe is not a natural-born citizen but merely a naturalized Filipino.
Poe, for her part, said the 1935 Philippine Constitution and international laws and conventions grant her the status of a natural-born. She countered Carpio's argument by saying that for someone to be naturalized, a process must be undertaken, which, in her case, did not happen.
Carpio said Poe can only be considered a natural-born Filipino if she would be able to prove that at least one of her parents is a Filipino.
The senator attempted to prove this by undergoing DNA tests with her prospective relatives. The tests yielded negative results.
'CITIZEN BUT NOT NATURAL-BORN'
Duterte, a lawyer and former government prosecutor, said he is not buying Poe's camp's argument that international law and convention grant foundlings the status of a natural-born citizen.
''The treaty says foundlings are deemed citizens of the country where they are from. Hanggang dyan lang...do not overstretch it,'' Duterte said.
''Bakit mo i-overstretch na they are presumed [natural-born]? It is an assumption. If ever you make it [to the presidency], you are going to become a presumptive president in terms of citizenship.
''Huwag mo akong bigyan ng presumption. If you read the treaty, it says it [vests upon] the foundling the citizenship. Period. Wala namang sinabi she's now [vested upon] the citizenship and deemed to be a Filipino at birth. Huwag mong taasan iyan. hanggang dyan lang."
Duterte also noted the numerous cases Poe is facing with respect to her presidential bid. He said it would be ''tragic'' if Poe wins the polls and the Supreme Court eventually declares she is not qualified for the post.
Aside from the SET case, Poe is also facing four disqualification cases before the Commission on Elections.
''When she is there already (presidency) and when the SC says she is not a Filipino, that would be tragic,'' he said.
Aside from the citizenship issue, Poe's residency is also being questioned in the disqualification cases against her.
Duterte arrived at the party with Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, who is running for vice president and had been rooting for a tandem with the Davao City mayor.
READ: Only Duterte can offer a changed Philippines: Cayetano
Cayetano said he is speechless over the feisty mayor's decision to accept the challenge to run for president.
''Speechless. Glory to god. Simple lang naman ang choice - hindi natural-born, natural-born na mabagal, natural-born na magnanakaw, at natural-born na may malasakit at may tapang,'' Cayetano said, in an apparent reference to the other presidential candidates.
Duterte said he has yet to formally inform the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), particularly its leader Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III, of his decision to run for president.
PDP-Laban presidential bet Martin Diño already dropped out of the 2016 race, opening the doors for Duterte to become the party's substitute candidate.
Diño said he decided to withdraw his candidacy because of the Comelec's motu proprio decision to declare him as a nuisance candidate.
Prior to this, the party had chosen Duterte, who missed the October 16 deadline for the filing of certificate of candidacy, to substitute for Diño.
When asked if he already intends to go to Comelec to fix his candidacy, Duterte said: ''Not yet. I have to make rounds to fill in the gaps."
In an earlier interview on dzMM, Comelec chairman Andres Bautista said the poll body had yet to receive a letter from Duterte indicating his willingness to stand as Diño's substitute for the presidential race.
At the time of the interview, the PDP-Laban had also yet to file a new certificate of nomination and acceptance for Duterte.
Bautista then said the substitution will not be valid without Duterte's consent.
The Comelec chairman said questions may arise on the validity of the proposed substitution without Duterte's consent.
"Ang tawag nila sa batas, kumbaga, one of a kind situation. But sinabi ko rin, sana kung magkakaroon ng substitution, as soon as possible para hindi na magulo 'yung ating proseso," he said.
Duterte's initial reluctance to run for president was deemed by some as a mere political ploy to boost his candidacy. Bautista said such a strategy is not against the law.
"Kasama ito sa proseso e. 'Yang strategy rin e kasama sa isang kampanya. Kaya lang, ang dapat siguraduhin ay 'yung strategy ay sumasang-ayon sa batas. As I said, may gray areas kung magkakaroon man ng substitution," he said.
"Hindi ko masasabi sa inyo kung tatanggapin namin kung magkakaroon ng substitution--at kung may magfa-file ng disqualification case if and when a substitution happens."
The poll body has until December 10 to finalize its list of candidates for the 2016 elections.