Rowena Guanzon

SC temporarily blocks Rowena Guanzon’s party-list substitution bid

Dwight de Leon

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SC temporarily blocks Rowena Guanzon’s party-list substitution bid

ELECTORAL REFORMS. Then-Comelec commissioner Rowena Guanzon speaks in a Senate hearing on October 8, 2019.

Angie de Silva/Rappler

Rowena Guanzon and the Comelec say in separate statements that they will comply with the Supreme Court instruction to comment on Duterte Youth's petition within 10 days

MANILA, Philippines – Former Commission on Elections commissioner Rowena Guanzon faces another roadblock to her congressional aspirations after the Supreme Court (SC) temporarily blocked a Comelec order that allowed her party-list substitution bid.

The SC issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) on Wednesday, June 29, in the wake of Duterte Youth’s petition that questioned Guanzon’s bid to be the substitute nominee of winning party-list group P3PWD, as her application was filed after the deadline.

The High Court also required the Comelec, the House of Representatives, and P3PWD led by Guanzon to comment on the petition within 10 days.

The Comelec en banc on June 15 granted the request of P3PWD’s original nominees to withdraw their papers, and accepted a new list of nominees led by Guanzon.

The substitution deadline for party-list nominees who withdrew from the race was November 15, 2021, according to Comelec Resolution No. 10717, which Guanzon herself signed when she was still with the poll body in August 2021.

“No substitution shall be valid if filed beyond November 15, 2021, unless the list of nominees originally submitted has been exhausted due to death and/or incapacity of the nominees,” the resolution read.

In justifying its decision to allow the changes in the group’s list of nominees beyond the deadline, the Comelec had cited provisions of Republic Act (RA) No. 7941 or the Party-List System Act.

Section 8 of RA 7941 says that a party-list group shall submit its list of nominees “not later than 45 days before the election,” but adds that a change of names is allowed in cases where the nominee withdraws in writing.

Section 16, meanwhile, allows groups to “submit additional nominees” if the original list is exhausted.

Aside from Guanzon, Bryan Revilla of Agimat and Rodante Marcoleta of Sagip were also originally not the top nominees of their party-list groups, but are poised to become part of the 19th Congress after the Comelec approved a new list of nominees for their groups after the May 9 elections.

Some poll watchdogs have said the practice of post-deadline and post-election substitutions is the latest attempt by interest groups to abuse the party-list system.

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In a tweet, Guanzon said she will adhere to the SC order.

“I will file a comment to the petition of [Ronald] Cardema in the Supreme Court within 10 days. Contrary to his propaganda, I have a certificate of proclamation and I have submitted it to the House of Representatives,” she said.

The Comelec also said it will comply with the TRO and will seek the representation of the Office of the Solicitor General. –

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Dwight de Leon

Dwight de Leon is a multimedia reporter who covers President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the Malacañang, and the Commission on Elections for Rappler.