Cayetano, House leaders ask Comelec to proclaim Duterte Youth, Senior Citizens

Mara Cepeda
Cayetano, House leaders ask Comelec to proclaim Duterte Youth, Senior Citizens

Darren Langit

(UPDATED) Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon slams the House resolution, saying it 'encroaches' on the poll body's independence

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano led a group of 7 ranking congressmen who are asking the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to issue certificates of proclamation (COPs) to two embattled party-list groups: Duterte Youth and Senior Citizens. 

On Monday, November 25, the following leaders of the House of Representatives filed House Resolution (HR) No. 552:

  • Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, Taguig City-Pateros
  • Majority Leader Martin Romualdez, Leyte 1st District
  • Minority Leader Bienvenido Abante Jr, Manila 6th District
  • Deputy Speaker Mikee Romero, 1-Pacman
  • Deputy Speaker Rodante Marcoleta, 1-Sagip
  • Deputy Speaker Conrado Estrella, Abono
  • Deputy Speaker Eddie Villanueva, CIBAC

The lawmakers are “respectfully urging” the poll body to proclaim the 1st nominees of Duterte Youth and Senior Citizens, even if the respective cases faced by both parties remain pending before the Comelec. 

Without a COP, the 1st nominee of a winning party-list group cannot take his or her oath as an official member of the House.

“The prolonged or more than 6 months unresolved and undecided cases evidently deny due process to the parties, including the disenfranchised 857,653 Filipinos who voted for the party-lists Senior Citizens (with 510,356 votes) and Duterte Youth (with 347,297 votes),” read HR No. 552.

The House leaders argued that the delayed resolution of the cases faced by Duterte Youth and Senior Citizens “constitutes violation of the Comelec on its mandate in listening to the voice of the people by avoiding disenfranchisement of the voters, and violation of the mandates under the 1987 Philippine Constitution for party-lists to represent at least 20% of the total number of representatives in Congress.”

If adopted by the House plenary, HR No. 552 would merely “express the sense” of legislators. The document cannot compel the Comelec to issue the COPs.

Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon slammed HR No. 552 and said it “encroaches on our independence as an independent constitutional commission.”

“Parties, Cardema were given due process. [We conducted] hearings [on the] pleadings. But petitioners against them also have the right to be heard,” Guanzon tweeted on Tuesday, November 26.

 

While Duterte Youth may have won one seat in Congress after the May elections, it has yet to obtain a seat in the House owing to several resolutions filed with the Comelec challenging the validity of its nominees and party registration. (READ: Stretching the rules: Duterte Youth’s bid for Congress)

The Comelec 1st Division already canceled the nomination of former National Youth Commission chair Ronald Cardema as Duterte Youth’s 1st nominee, as the 34-year-old was deemed ineligible to be a youth representative.

But the Comelec en banc recently accepted Cardema’s bid to withdraw his nomination, clearing the way for Duterte Youth’s substitute nominees to assume a seat in the House.

The Senior Citizens party-list group, meanwhile, sought the Comelec’s intervention to end its internal dispute over its official nominees in May.

According to BusinessMirror, Godofredo Villar Arquiza, Francisco Datol, and Milagros Magsaysay are all claiming to be party president and have each endorsed different sets of nominees for Senior Citizens.

Just like Duterte Youth, Senior Citizens also won one seat in the current 18th Congress, but its 1st nominee has yet to become an official legislator. – Rappler.com

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.