MANILA, Philippines – The presidential bet of the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) – the party of former president and now Manila Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada – has withdrawn his candidacy and is now supporting the presidential bid of Vice President Jejomar Binay.
Romel “Mel” Mendoza said during a press conference on Monday, February 1, that he only filed his certificate of candidacy (COC) to give Estrada a chance to substitute for him.
Estrada said in October 2015 that he would seek re-election should the two bets he is willing to support – Binay and Senator Grace Poe – are disqualified.
Mendoza, secretary general of the Kalipunan ng Masang Pilipino (Kampil), filed his Statement of Cancellation/Withdrawal at the law department of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) before 5 pm on Monday.
“Nais din naman naming ipahayag na sa withdrawal na ito ng aking kandidatura ay malugod namang iniendorso ng KAMPIL ang kandidatura ni Vice President Jejomar Binay bilang pangulo ng Pilipinas,” he said. (We at KAMPIL are also endorsing the candidacy of Vice President Jejomar Binay for president of the Philippines.)
With Mendoza’s withdrawal, only 6 presidential candidates remain in the race: Binay, Poe, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, former Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II, and OFW Family Representative Roy Señeres.
The Comelec upheld an earlier decision declaring presidential bet Dante Valencia as a nuisance candidate.
Valencia’s and Mendoza’s names remain in the draft ballot, however, until the Comelec finalizes the list of candidates on February 3.
Time to review substitution rules?
In an interview, Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista said the poll body would be accepting Mendoza’s withdrawal.
He reiterated that no one may substitute for Mendoza anymore because his withdrawal came after the December 10, 2015, deadline for substitutions.
Bautista also acknowledged that the rule allowing candidate substitutions should be reviewed, as it “can be a mechanism to circumvent the nomination process.”
“Siyempre, part and parcel din 'yan of strategy. 'Yan 'yung mga kailangan nating timbangin at siguro panawagan nga sa ating Kongreso na tignan kung dapat bang pinapayagan 'yang substitution,” said Bautista.
(That’s part and parcel of campaign strategy, of course. That’s one of the things we need to consider, but I appeal to Congress to check if substitutions should really be allowed.) – Rappler.com