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

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:

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.

That Resolution of the House of Reps " urging " the https://twitter.com/COMELEC?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw ">@COMELEC to resolve the cases encroaches on our independence as an independent constitutional Commission .parties Cardemas were given due process . Hearings pleadings. but petitioners against them also have d right to be heard. — Rowena V. Guanzon (@commrguanzon) https://twitter.com/commrguanzon/status/1199182867093499904?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw ">November 26, 2019 https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js " charset="utf-8">

 

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

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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