It’s still a ‘no’ for Duterte despite withdrawal of PDP-Laban’s Diño from presidential race

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 29 Oct) – Despite the withdrawal of PDP-Laban’s Martin “Bobot” Diño in the presidential race and naming Mayor Rodrigo Duterte as his substitute, the latter said his decision has remained a “no.”

In an ambush interview Thursday before the start of the AFP-PNP Basketball League at the Davao City Recreation Center (DCRC), Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, the mayor’s executive assistant, said Duterte already has knowledge about the cancellation of Dino’s withdrawal but the mayor was firm in his previous decision not to run.

“Nothing has changed, mao ra ingon niya (that’s all he said),” said Go.

In a Facebook post of former North Cotabato governor Manny Piñol, Duterte’s spokesman, on Thursday morning, Piñol said Diño’s decision to withdraw came after the law department of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) issued a petition against Diño to declare him as nuisance candidate “since he was only a stand-in candidate for Duterte.”

In a signed Statement of Cancellation/Withdrawal that circulated on social media, Diño, who is the deputy secretary general of PDP-Laban, named the Duterte as his substitute.

The mayor, who Go said will continue in his soul-searching until All Saints’ Day, will issue a statement in his regular Sunday program “Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa.”

He added that it was the choice of the PDP Laban’s national council to indicate him as the substitute candidate because there’s a possibility that Diño might be declared as nuisance candidate by the Law Department of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC).

In a separate interview, City Administrator Jesus Melchor Quitain said Diño’s cancellation of his certificate of candidacy was just the first step if the mayor decides to run.

“But everything depends upon the mayor. The grounds are laid for him to make his decision,” he said.

Quitain, who is the secretary general of the party that Duterte founded, Hugpong sa Tawong Lungsod (Hugpong), said they still have no idea who will substitute Duterte if ever the mayor would decide to take up the presidential bid.

Duterte has decided to seek for re-election as mayor of Davao City after daughter Sara Duterte-Carpio declined her father’s appeal for takeover. Duterte’s COC was filed on his behalf by Quitain and Go.

“Let’s just wait and see,” Quitain quoted the mayor as saying.

According to lawyer Marlon Casquejo, COMELEC deputy director in Davao, only a member of a political party can substitute. But he pointed out that Duterte’s Hugpong is an affiliate member of PDP-Laban.

“It depends on the political party how are they going to go about it, but it’s going to be a long process,” he said.