MANILA – Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte's move to become the substitute presidential candidate of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) could face problems, according to veteran election lawyer Romulo Macalintal.
Macalintal said issues hounding the withdrawn candidacy of Martin Diño could bungle an attempt by Duterte to substitute him and carry the party's banner in the 2016 polls.
After months of giving mixed signals about his presidential bid, Duterte on Saturday said his candidacy for the country's top post is ''now on the table''.
The tough-talking mayor of Davao City said the Senate Electoral Tribunal's (SET) decision favoring Senator Grace Poe in a disqualification case prompted him to change his mind about not seeking the presidency.
He said he could not accept that Poe will be allowed to run, saying the senator is not a natural-born Filipino and is therefore not qualified to run for president.
READ: 'Don't cheapen the presidency,' Duterte tells Poe's camp
Macalintal raised at least two issues involving Diño's candidacy. First is the apparent error in Diño's certificate of candidacy, which indicates that he is running for mayor of Pasay City.
''Kung ganoon ang mangyayari, base sa nababasa natin, si Diño ay tumakbo sa pagka-mayor ng Pasay City. Baka magka-problema,'' said Macalintal, who earlier expressed his support for Poe.
''Kung yun ang mangyayari dyan eh hindi ko malalaman kung paano magsa-substitute si Mayor Duterte."
The second issue Macalintal sees is the Commission on Election (Comelec) law department's reported plan to consider Diño as a nuisance candidate.
The lawyer said Duterte might encounter problems substituting for Diño should the latter be declared a nuisance bet.
''Kahit na sinasabing siya ay nag-withdraw sa pagka-kandidato, iyan ay reresolbahin ng Comelec kung talagang siya ay nuisance candidate,'' Macalintal said.
''Kahit nag-withdraw, ang withdrawal ay kailangan ng approval ng Comelec."
Macalintal said if Diño will be declared a nuisance bet, his COC will also be considered null and void.
''Kapag null and void ang kanyang COC, wala kang papalitan. Kasi ang isang petition to declare nuisance, iyan ay katulad ng isang petition to deny due course to a certificate of candidacy,'' he said.
''Ang existing jurisprudence ng Supreme Court, kapag ang COC ay cancelled or denied due course, ang tao na iyon na na-deny ang COC ay hindi pwedeng palitan. Iyan ang pinag-uusapan ngayon sa kaso ni Diño."