Supreme Court junks quo war­ranto plea vs Duterte

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THE Supreme court (SC) has de­nied the quo war­ranto pe­ti­tion lodged against Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte by peren­nial nui­sance pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Elly Pam­a­tong due to lack of le­gal stand­ing and the lapse of pre­scribed pe­riod for tak­ing le­gal ac­tion.

The high tri­bunal, in its en banc rul­ing, said Pam­a­tong, a sus­pended lawyer who claimed to have won the 2016 pres­i­den­tial race, filed the quo war­ranto plea against Duterte on June 6, 2018, nearly two years since Duterte as­sumed the coun­try’s high­est post.

How­ever, such pe­ti­tion can only be filed un­til June 30, 2017, or just for a year since Duterte took of­fice on June 30, 2016.

“Pe­ti­tioner’s right to hold the dis­puted of­fice, if at all, arose on June 30, 2016, when re­spon­dent was in­au­gu­rated as the 16th Pres­i­dent of the Repub­lic of the Philip­pines. Fol­low­ing this, pe­ti­tioner’s cause of ac­tion pre­scribed on June 30, 2017,” the high court said in a seven-page res­o­lu­tion.

On June 6, 2018, Pam­a­tong filed a quo war­ranto pe­ti­tion, ques­tion­ing Duterte’s “ca­pac­ity” to serve as the coun­try’s pres­i­dent.

Pam­a­tong also called Duterte a “usurper,” as the Chief Ex­ec­u­tive al­legedly filed an “il­le­gal” cer­tifi­cate of can­di­dacy for the May 9, 2016 pres­i­den­tial race.

Duterte, then sub­sti­tute can­di­date for Par­tido Demokratik­o Pilipino Lakas ng Bayan par­ty­mate Martin Diño, ended up win­ning the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tions af­ter be­ing elected by more than 16 mil­lion vot­ers.

Mala­cañang ear­lier down­played Pam­a­tong’s quo-war­ranto pe­ti­tion against Duterte as “ut­terly bereft of le­gal and ac­tual merit.”

The SC, in its de­ci­sion, also stressed that Pam­a­tong “lacks the le­gal stand­ing to bring an ac­tion for quo war­ranto.”

The high court noted that a per­son who files a quo war­ranto pe­ti­tion “must be able to sub­stan­ti­ate a per­sonal stake in the out­come of the con­tro­versy he brings for de­ter­mi­na­tion.”

“He must be him­self claim­ing en­ti­tle­ment to the pres­i­dency which he al­leged is be­ing usurped by re­spon­dent,” it said.

“Other than his bare dec­la­ra­tion that he ‘took an oath as care­taker Pres­i­dent of the Philip­pines, and as­sumed the Pres­i­dency on June 30, 2016,’ the pe­ti­tioner failed to cor­rob­o­rate such claims which none­the­less, are demon­stra­ble be­lied by the re­sults of the 2016 elec­tions,” it added.

The court also noted that al­though Pam­a­tong filed a can­di­dacy for the 2016 pres­i­den­tial race, it was dis­ap­proved by the Com­mis­sion on Elec­tions af­ter be­ing de­clared nui­sance can­di­date.

Pam­a­tong’s dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tion was af­firmed with fi­nal­ity by the court on Jan­uary 12, 2016.

“There is, there­fore, no fac­tual ba­sis for pe­ti­tioner’s as­ser­tion of a per­sonal claim to the po­si­tion of the Pres­i­dent,” the high court said./ Sun­star Philip­pines

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