Duterte substitution 'possible', PDP-Laban bet says

Christian V. Esguerra, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 20 2015 01:24 AM | Updated as of Oct 21 2015 04:19 PM

The gates of the Commission on Elections' main office in Manila closed at exactly 5 p.m. last Friday, signalling the end of the filing of the certificates of candidacy for next year's elections.

Not a shadow of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Dutente was seen at the Comelec, much to dismay of his supporters who came in full force.

But Duterte’s political party, PDP-Laban, left the door open for whatever little possibility was left that he might still change his mind.

The party fielded the lesser known Martin Diño as its standard-bearer. Under the rules, Duterte could still substitute for Diño, chairman of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption, by December 10.

Diño was open to being replaced by Duterte, but said it would have to be the party’s decision.

“We can’t take away that possibility,” Diño told ABS-CBN News.

Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III of the PDP-Laban indicated that Diño could still be substituted.

“Everything is in a state of flux,” Pimentel said in a text message. “Mr. Diño is the candidate with the official party nomination, hence, he is expected to act like one.”

Diño, a longtime barangay chairman in Quezon City, admitted that his decision to file his COC at the last minute was part of a “strategy.”

His party was clearly waiting for Duterte to make up his mind and formally enter the presidential race by the Oct. 16 deadline.

But Diño insisted there was “no agreement” with Duterte for him to file a COC for president in the meantime.

“I didn’t speak with Mayor Duterte,” he said. “All I know is that I was picked by the party because it has to play an active role in the elections.”

READ: Duterte to run for mayor, not president

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There was a bit of drama at the Comelec last Friday.

Hundreds of Duterte supporters turned up, expecting him to gun for the presidency. Some of them had their heads shaved in front of the Comelec office as part of a campaign urging him to run.

Even Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano filed his COC for vice president close to the 5 p.m. deadline, hoping that Duterte would heed the clamor. Cayetano was offering himself as Duterte’s running mate.

But there was still no trace of Duterte as Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez led a countdown toward the end of the filing of COC.

“Our first and best option is Rudy Duterte,” Diño said, admitting that he filed his COC only because the Davao mayor did not show up.

Former Sen. Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr., PDP-Laban founder, said only Duterte could say whether he would still change his mind on the presidency.

“The definitive answer can only come from Digong,” he said.

Political analyst Antonio Contreras rejected the idea of fielding candidates, only to replace them later on as part of political strategy.

“It effectively turns the elections into a scripted and contrived ‘kalyeserye’ that can only diminish its centrality in our political environment,” he said.

“Anyone who willingly becomes a party to this mockery of the electoral process does not deserve a mandate from the people.”

Whatever the outcome of this long drawn out Duterte saga will be, Diño insisted that he’s no nuisance candidate.

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