2019 Philippine elections

Election lawyers to Comelec: Don’t proclaim Duterte Youth’s Ducielle Cardema

Sofia Tomacruz

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Election lawyers to Comelec: Don’t proclaim Duterte Youth’s Ducielle Cardema

DUTERTE YOUTH will return the Death Penalty. Photo courtesy of Duterte Youth

Duterte Youth

They say proclaiming Ducielle Cardema would be 'patently unconstitutional' as Duterte Youth did not complete the requirements to be a registered party

Backed by election lawyers, youth representatives continued their fight to block Duterte Youth from assuming a seat in Congress as they opposed the “forthcoming proclamation” of the embattled group’s representative, Ducielle Marie Cardema. 

In a letter-opposition filed with the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Monday, September 21, youth leaders represented by election lawyers Emil Marañon, Ernelson Trojillo, and Rod Ryan Suaco argued that proclaiming Cardema would be “grossly illegal” and “patently unconstitutional.” 

The group said in its letter that Duterte Youth did not meet hearing and publication requirements to be considered a registered party.

Duterte Youth had garnered enough votes during the 2019 midterm polls to take one seat in the 18th Congress. Despite this, the group has not been able to assume a seat in the House of Representatives as petitions were filed against it before the poll body.

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Legal obstacles

Election lawyers and youth leaders said the Comelec’s proclamation of Cardema would be outside the jurisdiction of the poll body as Duterte Youth’s failure to comply with requirements means its registration was “incomplete and unfinished, therefore its status unregistered.”

“Without first acquiring jurisdiction over Duterte Youth and without prior registration, the Comelec would have no authority to allot a seat to Duterte Youth or proclaim Ducielle Marie Cardema who technically represents a non-entity,” the group said.

They reminded the poll body that going by the Constitution, only nominees of duly-registered parties could be proclaimed and assume their allotted seats in Congress.

“Thus, to proclaim Ducielle Marie Cardema would not only be clearly ultra vires (beyond one’s legal power), but would be grossly illegal and patently unconstitutional,” they said.

The group earlier filed a petition seeking to declare Duterte Youth’s registration as void ab initio or void from the beginning for these 6 reasons:

  • It has made untruthful statements…particularly on the eligibility of its nominees.
  • It has no bona fide intention to represent the sector for which the petition has been filed and thus prevents a faithful determination of the true will of the electorate.
  • It advocated violence or unlawful means to achieve its goals.
  • It was an adjunct of or an entity funded or assisted by the government, specifically the National Youth Commission (NYC).
  • It violated or failed to comply with laws, rules, or regulations relating to elections.
  • Its petition had been filed to “put the election in mockery or disrepute.”
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Challenge upon challenge

The group’s opposition against Ducielle Cardema’s possible proclamation is the latest battle for Duterte Youth since it joined the 2019 midterm elections.

Ducielle became the group’s first nominee after her husband, former NYC chairperson Ronald Cardema, withdrew his nomination.

Ronald Cardema and Duterte Youth had faced a series of petitions and complaints lodged with the Comelec since he filed a last-minute substitution bid on May 12, 2019, the eve of election day.

Marañon, who was the former chief of staff of ex-Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr, has been the face of opposition versus Duterte Youth.

Along with youth representatives, Marañon and Brillantes filed petitions seeking to cancel Ronald Cardema’s nomination, block Duterte Youth’s new nominees, and cancel the party’s registration. The cases were among the last to be taken up by Brillantes before his death last August 11.

The poll body eventually affirmed in February that Ronald Cardema was too old to be a youth sector representative, being above 30, and thus ineligible to sit in Congress. – Rappler.com

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Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers defense and foreign affairs. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz.