Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has made doing things on his own terms a hallmark of his two-decade long political career, like in his world-famous crusade against criminals.
With just minutes left before the deadline for the filing of candidacies and with his supporters holding out hope that he’d change his mind before the buzzer sounds, the mayor reiterated that he is not interested in running for president. “Give the presidency to the one who wants it. I don’t,” he wrote on his Facebook page.
However, instead of fading into the background, Duterte continued to toy with the prospect of running. In an interview with Rappler.com executive editor Maria Ressa, he mentioned that a technicality in COMELEC’s rules allows him to wait until December 10, 2015 to change his mind. The date refers to the deadline the poll body has set for candidate substitution by political parties.
Four weeks later, Duterte indeed eventually chose that route. As it is, he will be running under the banner of Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan or PDP-Laban. The party had earlier fielded Martin Diño of the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption as its standard bearer although he withdrew his candidacy after only two weeks, naming Duterte as his replacement candidate.
However, everything is not going as smoothly as expected. The main source of the problem is that Diño’s COC indicate that he is running as mayor of Pasay City and not as president. The mistake has been described as a mere “clerical error” but the fact remains that if COMELEC rules that Diño is not a candidate for president, then there’s no way Duterte can substitute for him.
If that worst case scenario happens, what are Duterte’s other options? According to COMELEC Resolution 9984, only candidates running under duly registered political parties are can be replaced since “no substitute shall be allowed for any independent candidate.”
Hence, if Duterte cannot be a substitute presidential candidate for PDP-LABAN in place of Martin Diño because of technicalities, then the mayor might not be able to run for president after all unless there’s another party-nominated presidential candidate that will give way for him like Rep. Roy Seneres of OFW Family Club party-list or former Iloilo Rep. Augusto Syjuco of the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan.
Duterte aimed to seek the presidency on his own terms and by following his own timeline. Unfortunately for him, by some twist of fate, he is no longer in total control of the future of his candidacy at the moment.