Comelec's Guanzon: Cardema cannot sit in Congress until age issue resolved

MANILA, Philippines – Though his substitution bid was approved, Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon said the poll body has not ruled on Ronald Cardema’s qualification as a nominee of the party-list group Duterte Youth.

And until issues on his qualification are resolved, Guanzon said Cardema cannot sit as the Duterte Youth representative in the 18th Congress.

Guanzon tweeted: “Walang uupo na rep (No one will sit as representative) ang D Youth (Duterte Youth) until the DQ (disqualification) versus Cardema is resolved.”

The Comelec en banc approved on Tuesday, June 4, the last-minute withdrawals and petition for substitution filed by Cardema, the Duterte Youth chairman, and other nominees. It adopted its law department's recommendations to give it due course after the party met the deadline for filing. 

The substitution of Ronald Cardema as Duterte Youth nominee has been approved, with one Commissioner dissenting and one abstention. #NLE2019 pic.twitter.com/EvJVD6vtgk — James Jimenez (@jabjimenez) June 4, 2019

Before the poll body accepted Cardema's substitution bid, more than 10 oppositions from election lawyers, watchdogs, and youth groups were filed before Comelec. 

Guanzon dissented from the poll body's decision "to give due course to the nomination" of Cardema and 5 others as substitute nominees of Duterte Youth, because the Commission cannot "allow this unabashed mockery and assault to our democratic processes."

Comelec Commissioner Luie Guia abstained from the ruling "to be consistent with my earlier vote to deny the accreditation" of Duterte Youth.

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

Guanzon had earlier raised issues about Cardema's age and reiterated this in her dissent. She said that based on his certificates of nomination and acceptance (CONAs), Cardema is 34 years old, as he was born on April 12, 1985. Three other substitute nominees, aged 31 to 36, also "failed to comply with the age requirement."

"His substitution is not yet granted because there is a pending petition or opposition on the ground that he is over 30 years old and cannot be a representative of a youth sector party-list group," Guanzon said.

Other nominees who filed for substitution along with Cardema and whose substitutions were also given due course were Gian Carlo Galang, Catherine Santos, Kerwin Pagaran, and Sharah Shane Makabali.

The public slammed Comelec for its decision to provide allow Cardema's substitution bid, saying this stripped the poll body of its credibility. ([ANALYSIS] The dangerous Cardema precedent) – 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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