BY ROGER M. BALANZA
Rodrigo Duterte can still run for President in 2016 even if he is barred by the Commission on Election (Comelec) from running as a substitute candidate of Martin Diño of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino/Laban (PDP-Laban).
The Davao City mayor can run for President under the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL), said a stalwart of the party, lawyer Oliver Lozano.
Lozano said KBL was willing to field Duterte as its standard bearer to skirt a possible disqualification, as the Comelec on Friday, December 18, heard a petition filed by Roman Castor seeking to disqualify Duterte from the presidential election.
Ironically, Lozano is the legal counsel of Castor in the petition.
In his petition, Castor said Duterte cannot run as substitute candidate for Diño who he said filed an invalid Certificate of Candidacy (COC). In his COC, Diño stated that he was running for mayor of Pasay City and not for president.
But Lozano said Castor merely wanted to nullify the COC for President of Dino and is not against Duterte’s presidential bid.
KBL, he also said, will support Duterte if his presidential run is cleared by Comelec.
Lozano stressed that Duterte cannot run as substitute candidate for Diño because the latter’s COC was invalid.
But there is a remedy for Duterte to pursue his bid to be the next President, said the KBL stalwart.
Outside of the court hearing, Lozano said Duterte could substitute for Augusto Syjuco, the KBL presidential candidate who was earlier declared by Comelec as a “nuisance candidate.”
As a substitute candidate for Syjuco there will no legal question on Duterte’s presidential bid, said Lozano.
Lozano said that his party KBL could merge with Duterte’s PDP/Laban and field the Davao City mayor as standard bearer.
Duterte, now leading in surveys for presidential preference, is running in a five-way race with Vice President Jejomar Binay of the opposition United Nationalist Alliance, Mar Roxas of the administration Liberal Party, independent Senator Grace Poe and Senator Miriam Santiago of the People’s Reform Party.
The substitution issue is remains as a major stumbling block to the presidential bid of Duterte who earlier had been listed by Comelec as an official candidate.
Unlike Poe who is raising to the Supreme Court her disqualification by Comelec for lack of residency and citizenship qualification, Duterte had said he would accept whatever decision of the Comelec on the substitution issue.
At a party he tendered for Davao journalists on Friday night, December 19, Duterte said he would support Binay if he is disqualified.
Duterte of late had locked in a week-long “word war” with Roxas, after the Liberal Party candidate said that the peace and order is a myth.
After Dutrterte’s threat to slap Roxas who retaliated by challenging Duterte to a fistfight and Duterte luring Roxas to a gun duel, the verbal scrimmage had come to close with Duterte smoking the peace pipe with the statement that slapping and boxing bouts could inflict heavy damage on Roxas. He is dropping the gun duel saying that Roxas could not handle a gun.
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