PDP-Laban presidential candidate Martin Diño today announced his withdrawal from the 2016 presidential elections and asked party mate and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte to run in his stead.

Diño, the deputy secretary general of PDP-Laban, made the move on the advise of his lawyers following a petition filed by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) legal office to declare him a nuisance candidate.

The Comelec Law Department earlier asked the Commission En Banc to cancel the certificate of candidacy (COC) of Diño saying that he was only a “stand-in” candidate for Duterte who did not file his COC for president last Oct. 16.

The petition also belittled Diño’s capacity to undertake a national campaign for President.

PDP-Laban national chairman Ismael Sueno, former governor of South Cotabato, said Diño decided to withdraw his COC today to pave the way for Duterte who has earlier announced that he would yield to the decision of his national party.

Duterte filed a COC for Mayor of Davao City on Oct. 15 in spite of the national call for him to run for President.

He stood firm on his decision not to run for President until the next few days after the deadline for the filing when he was flooded with desperate calls from different sectors to reconsider his decision not to vie for the highest political position in the country.

Duterte, who was in Manila two days after the Oct. 16 deadline, told reporters who interviewed him that he would abide by his party’s decision.

On Monday, the PDP Laban passed two resolutions.

The first resolution affirmed the party’s support for Diño while the second resolution stated that should Diño decide to withdraw from the race, the party was “compelling” Duterte to run as substitute.

Sueno said with Diño out of the race, the party has until Dec. 10 to fill in the void in its Presidential slot. -MannyPiñol