House of Representatives

Questions over rules hinder Guanzon’s bid for House seat

Kaycee Valmonte

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Questions over rules hinder Guanzon’s bid for House seat

COURT IN SESSION. Oral arguments for G.R. No. 261123 (Duterte Youth v. COMELEC, et al.) and G.R. No. 261876 (Duterte Youth v. Guanzon) started on Tuesday, November 14, 2023.

Supreme Court Public Information Office/Twitter

Most of the questions during the oral arguments on the petition against former Comelec commissioner Rowena Guanzon’s party-list substitution at the Supreme Court asks for clarifications on rules and interpretations

MANILA, Philippines — When commissioners at the Commission on Elections are incomplete – what is the number needed for the en banc to reach a quorum? Is the deadline for substitution of party-list nominees written in the Philippine Constitution?

Most of the questions that plagued oral arguments on the petition against former Comelec commissioner Rowena Guanzon’s party-list nominee substitution on Tuesday, November 14, at the Supreme Court sought for clarifications on rules and their interpretations.

While Guanzon was qualified to substitute as a nominee for the P3PWD party list, Duterte Youth questioned whether her bid should be considered as it was filed beyond the deadline. Another issue emerged as only three commissioners gave the green light to Guanzon’s substitution.

Still, the poll body emphasized that Guanzon and P3PWD were able to meet requirements needed.

“Satisfied that all P3PWD submissions met all the requirements, the Comelec law department recommended the approval of the withdrawal [of nominees] and substitution,” Assistant Solicitor General Maria Victoria V. Sardillo-Salom said.

However, the High Court issued a temporary restraining order against a Comelec order that granted Guanzon’s substitution bid for P3PWD in June 29 last year, just a day before other elected officials took their oath of office.

The deadline of application for party-list substitution was set on November 15, 2021 – back then, Guanzon was still sitting as commissioner of the poll body. Her counsel, lawyer Christian Robert Lim, said on Tuesday she retired on February 2 last year and was inducted as a member of P3PWD two days later.

She submitted documents certifying her bid to substitute as first nominee on June 14, a little over a month after the May 9 polls. P3PWD secured one seat at the House of Representatives after ranking 24th with 384,060 votes.

“Allowing the party-list organizations to change its nominees through withdrawal of alteration of the order of nominations after the submission of the list, nominees, their nominations, counteracts the voter’s demand for transparency,” said lawyer Edward Gialogo, counsel for Duterte Youth.

Gialogo added that this made “the playing field among the party-list organizations no longer equal.”

Ironically, the Duterte Youth argument before the High Court about late substitutions as making “the playing no long equal” did not mention that its group benefitted from this situation previously.

Duterte Youth Chairman Ronald Cardema filed for a substitution in 2019, which the poll body approved despite being beyond the deadline.

Cardema then was also 33 years old, 3 years above the maximum age to qualify to be a youth sector representative. – with research from Olive Pallasigue/

Olive Pallasigue is a Rappler volunteer. She is a fourth-year broadcasting student at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines-Open University Manila. Learn more about Rappler’s internship program here.

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