Ex-Comelec chief sees no problem in Duterte substitution

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBNnews.com

MANILA – Former Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Sixto Brillantes believes Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte will be able to substitute for erstwhile PDP-Laban bet Martin Diño despite a petition questioning the replacement.

Duterte recently filed his certificate of candidacy (COC) as the presidential bet of PDP-Laban, replacing Dino, who had erroneously indicated in his COC that he was running for Pasay City mayor. This prompted broadcaster Ruben Castor to ask the poll body to nullify his candidacy.

Duterte entered the presidential race after the Senate Electoral Tribunal ruled that Sen. Grace Poe, also a presidential aspirant, is a natural-born Filipino.

The tough-talking mayor's allies said he can still join the presidential race after Diño withdrew from the race before the Comelec could decide on the petition to declare him as a nuisance bet.

Brillantes said Diño's withdrawal from the race is allowed as this is one of three grounds under the Omnibus Election Code for the substitution of a candidate.

''Section 77 [of the Omnibus Election Code] speaks of death of the official candidate, disqualification of the official candidate, or withdrawal of the official candidate,'' Brillantes said.

In his petition, Castor, represented by lawyer Oliver Lozano, said Duterte cannot substitute for Diño because the latter's COC indicated that he is running for mayor of Pasay City. Substitution is allowed only for the same position.

But Brillantes downplayed this clerical error, saying the ''controlling document'' is the PDP-Laban's certificate of nomination and acceptance.

''Ang masama rito is if we will not allow the substitution…Ang nape-prejudice dito is PDP-Laban because the prerogative to substitute belongs to the political party. Therefore, errors committed by Diño should not adversely affect the political party,'' he said.

''Let us not penalize the political party for the act of a candidate.''
In the interview, Brillantes, who is prohibited from practicing election law within one year after retiring as Comelec chief, admitted he is serving as a ''consultant'' to presidential bets Grace Poe, Jejomar Binay, and Rodrigo Duterte.