Comelec approves substitution bid of Duterte Youth's Cardema

MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE)  – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Tuesday, June 4, approved Duterte Youth Chairman Ronald Cardema's last-minute bid to become the party-list group's nominee in the 2019 elections.

"The substitution bid of Ronald Cardema as Duterte Youth nominee has been approved, with one Commissioner dissenting and one abstention," Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez said.

 The poll body’s decision means Cardema is a step closer to assuming the post as party-list representative in the Lower House in the incoming 18th Congress. The party-list won one seat in the 2019 elections.

Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon said on Tuesday that the poll body will still need to rule on Cardema’s qualification, which she said would be a separate matter.

Walang uupo na rep (No one will sit as representative) ang D Youth (Duterte Youth) until the DQ (disqualification) versus Cardema is resolved,” Guanzon told Rappler in text message.

Prior to the poll body's decision, groups argued that Cardema had violated the Party-List System Act, as he did not meet the qualification needed to become a party-list nominee for the youth sector. The Party-List System Act mandates that representatives of the youth sector must be at least 25 years old, but not more than 30 years old on Election Day.

Cardema lists his birthday as April 13, 1986 on his official Facebook page. This makes him 33 years old, or 3 years over the age limit required to be a representative of the youth sector.

Experts also raised questions on the timing of Cardema's filing, as he filed his petition for substitution on Sunday, May 12, at about 5:30 pm. (READ: Election lawyers, youth leaders to Comelec: Reject Cardema's substitution bid)

Election lawyers Emil Marañon and Ernelson Trojillo, along with youth leaders, filed a petiton arguing that the timing of Cardema's filing had invalidated the petition.

This, becasue it violated Comelec resolutions as it was filed on a Sunday, past office hours at 5 pm, and beyond the November 29, 2018 deadline earlier set for filing petitions for substitution due to withdrawal of candidates.

Groups argued the move was a "mockery" of the law and a brazen attempt to circumvent Comelec's rules.

Prior to his last-minute bid to join the House as a party-list representative, Cardema served as chairperson of the National Youth Commission where he made headlines for his aggressive campaigns which targeted Leftist youth groups.

In a resolution released Tuesday, the Comelec en banc said it adopted the recommendation of the poll body’s Law Department on the withdrawal with substitution of all nominees of Duterte Youth party.

“The Commission resolved as it hereby resolves, to adopt the recommendation of the Law Department.... as follows: to grant the withdrawals of the certificate of acceptance of nomination...to give due course to the nomination of the following new nominees as substitutes,” it said. The resolution did not state the reason why it decided to adopt the recommendations.

Comelec Chairman Sheriff Abas and Commissioners Al Parreño, Socorro Inting, Marlon Casquejo, and Antonio Kho Jr voted in favor of Cardema’s substitution bid. Meanwhile, Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon dissented while Comelec Commissioner Luie Tito Guia abstained.

The poll body likewise decided to deny due course the nomination as substitute of Allen Payawal as the 6th nominee of Duterte Youth because there were only 5 original nominees. – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.

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