Petitions vs Cardema pour in as Comelec decides his fate

MANILA, Philippines – Over a week since Duterte Youth chairman Ronald Cardema filed a last-minute petition for substitution to become the party’s nominee to Congress, petitions opposing his bid continued to pour in, with more than 10 filed with the Commission on Elections (Comelec) as of Friday, May 24.

In a press conference, Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez said the poll body’s en banc needed to study the oppositions against Cardema’s bid before it could come out with a final decision on the matter. 

Yung substitution ni Cardema, hindi pa rin napagdedesisyonan dahil meron pang mga opposition na na-file laban sa kanyang petition, so kailangan i-address muna yung mga opposition na iyon. Marami ang nakapag-file ng opposition. As of last count, mahigit 10 ang nag-file,” Jimenez told reporters.

(The substitution [bid] of Cardema has not been decided on because there were oppositions filed against his petition, so those need to be addressed. Many filed oppositions. As of last count, more than 10 [groups] have filed.)

Among the issues raised is whether or not Cardema's petition can be considered filed as it was received past office hours, and on a weekend at that. The Comelec en banc is also tackling whether or not Cardema is qualified for the post. (READ: On Duterte Youth Cardema's bid for substitution: Questions for Comelec)

Groups earlier said Cardema could no longer serve as representative for Duterte Youth as he was beyond the age limit required for nominees of the youth sector. 

On his Facebook page, Cardema lists his birthday as April 13, 1986. This makes him 33 years old, or 3 years over the age limit required to be a representative of the youth sector. (READ: Election lawyers, youth leaders to Comelec: Reject Cardema's substitution bid)

WATCH: Duterte Youth Chairman Ronald Cardema arrived at the proclamation of winning party-lists even if the Comelec en banc has yet to release a decision on his substitution bid. He refuses to answers questions from media #PHVote @rapplerdotcom pic.twitter.com/G6teVZi1Tc — Sofia Tomacruz (@sofiatomacruz) May 22, 2019

Comelec’s jurisdiction

Duterte Youth was among the 51 party-list groups that were proclaimed winners in the 2019 elections. It gained enough support to take one seat in the House of Representatives. (READ: After party-list proclamation, still no Comelec decision on Cardema petition)

But even with party’s victory, Jimenez said it was premature to say whether or not Cardema would sit as a representative in the Lower House. (READ: Duterte Youth's Cardema already proclaims himself congressman on Facebook)

Wala siyang mauupuan pa kasi June 30 pa [yung start ng 18th Congress]. So, again, at this point, it’s premature to say hindi siya makakaupo o mauupo siya kasi right now ang na-proclaim natin yung party-list and that stays. Ang questionable ngayon ay sinong maupo for that party-list when that time comes,” he said.

(There is no seat yet because the 18th Congress will still start on June 30. So, again, at this point, it’s premature to say he can’t sit or he will sit because right now its the parties that have been proclaimed and that stays. What’s questionable is who will sit for that party when the time comes.)

Asked if the poll body would still have jurisdiction to decide on the matter after the proclamation of winning parties, Jimenez said substitutions and nominations were still for the Comelec to decide on, as opposed to district congressmen over whom the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal gains jurisdiction.

“In this particular instance, we still have the ball basically, kasi ang pinagtatalunan dito (because what is being decided on) is whether or not a substitution has been validly achieved…. At this point, were talking about nominations, so I think the consensus is that that’s still Comelec’s jurisdiction,” he said. – 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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