Supreme Court of the Philippines

Supreme Court junks bid to void Duterte Youth proclamation

Sofia Tomacruz
Supreme Court junks bid to void Duterte Youth proclamation

END OF THE ROAD. This file photo shows representatives from the Youth Act Now file a petition before the Supreme Court on Tuesday, October 27, 2020, urging the high court to deny the Duterte Youth Partylist a seat in the House of Representatives.

File photo by KD Madrilejos/Rappler

The Supreme Court says the petitioners failed to show that the Commission on Elections committed grave abuse in allowing Duterte Youth's congressional bid to flourish

The Supreme Court has junked a petition seeking to strike down as void ab initio a Commission on Elections (Comelec) minute resolution issuing Duterte Youth a certificate of proclamation in the 2019 elections. 

In a notice dated November 3, 2020, but shared with media only on Tuesday, January 26, the Supreme Court said it dismissed the petition for failing to show that the poll body committed grave abuse of direction in issuing resolutions related to the controversial group. 

“The Court resolved to dismiss the petition for failure to sufficiently show that the Commission on Elections committed grave abuse of discretion in rendering the challenged minute resolutions which, on the contrary, appear to be in accord with the facts and applicable law and jurisprudence,” said a one-page notice issued about a week after the petitioners filed their case. 

Youth leaders filed a case before the Supreme Court on October 26, 2020, following the assumption of Duterte Youth’s Ducielle Cardema to the House of Representatives. 

The group had asked the High Court to issue a status quo ante order and writ of preliminary injunction that would undo Cardema’s proclamation as representative to the 18th Congress. 

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Election lawyers, youth leaders bring battle vs Duterte Youth to Supreme Court

Election lawyers, youth leaders bring battle vs Duterte Youth to Supreme Court
Why this matters

Among youth leaders who filed the petition at the SC were those who challenged Duterte Youth’s congressional bid for over a year. 

At the Comelec, youth leaders asserted that Duterte Youth committed a series of acts that violated the Constitution, as well as Philippine election laws and the Party-List Act of 1995. In elevating their case to the High Court after Duterte Youth’s proclamation, the petitioners highlighted the role of the Comelec in allowing Duterte Youth’s bid to flourish despite pending oppositions and legal infirmities. 

Youth leaders argued that the justices should tackle their petition because they are challenging the legality of the Comelec’s administrative act to proclaim Duterte Youth and not the group’s election and returns, which would have placed it under the jurisdiction of the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal.

The petitioners, backed by election lawyer Emil Marañon, warned that to allow Duterte Youth and Cardema to sit in Congress despite legal questions would deprive the youth sector of “true and effective representation.”

Rappler reached out to Marañon for comment but he has not responded as of posting. In a tweet, the election lawyer said their group had yet to receive the Court’s notice and would refrain from making a comment until they received an official copy. 

‘Betrayal of Constitution’

Last September 2020 or over a year since the May 2019 midterm elections, the Comelec en banc earlier voted 4-1 to proclaim Duterte Youth

Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon, the lone dissenter in the ruling, called Duterte Youth’s proclamation a “betrayal of the Constitution” as the poll body had yet to rule on “constitutional and threshold matters” raised in the unresolved petitions still pending before the poll body.

Among those who sought to block Duterte Youth’s moves were veteran election lawyer Romulo Macalintal and the late Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. – 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.