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Party-list race: Comelec asked to reject Cardema as wife’s sub

Poll watchdog Kontra Daya on Friday called on the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to reject outright the application of National Youth Commission (NYC) chair Ronald Cardema to become the substitute nominee for the Duterte Youth party list, which appeared headed to win a House seat based on the partial tally of election returns.

In a press statement, Kontra Daya said the Party-list System Act of 1995 and Comelec Resolution No. 3307 prohibit substitution by reason of withdrawal after the polls had closed.

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Circumventing law

The group said Cardema’s filing of the motion to replace his wife, Ducielle Marie Suarez Cardema, as the party list’s first nominee on Thursday—three days after the elections—was an indication of his intent to circumvent the law.

The Inquirer called up and sent text messages and an e-mail to Cardema to get his comment but he had yet to respond at press time.

Keeping NYC post

As of Friday morning, Duterte Youth has garnered 345,240 votes or 1.25 percent of the total votes in the party list race. The group, which is currently at 21st place, needs at least 2 percent of the total votes to get a seat in the House of Representatives.

Despite having actively campaigned for Duterte Youth—an organization staunchly supporting President Duterte—Cardema did not resign as NYC chair, unlike other public officials who had to give up their posts when they accepted their nomination to represent a party list, Kontra Daya noted.

“Now (Cardema) wants to sit as (Duterte Youth) representative in Congress. He wants to have his cake and eat it, too, so to speak,” the group added.

The poll watchdog urged the Comelec not to allow such “patently illegal substitution” to prevent the “further erosion and destruction” of the party list system.

Time’s up for subs

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“The independence of (the Comelec) will be seriously put into question if it allows this illegal substitution for a known Duterte ally. Allowing it will cement public perception that the Comelec is under the control of the Duterte cabal in Malacañang Palace,” Kontra Daya said.

Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez on Friday said the period for the substitution of candidates “had already lapsed,” and that under Republic Act No. 7941, or the Party-list System Act, a nominee of the youth sector should not be more than 30 years old on Election Day.

Cardema is 33.

Referring to Cardema’s request, Jimenez acknowledged that “people do it all the time” but that Comelec’s answer had always been a firm “no.”

Controversial call

In February this year, Cardema drew controversy for asking President Duterte to issue an executive order removing the subsidy of “all rebellious antigovernment scholars” who, he said, may have links to the communist movement.

He also called on officials of the Sangguniang Kabataan, Reserve Officers’ Training Corps and Citizen Army Training to report “rebellious antigovernment scholars” to the NYC.

University officials, students and professors said such Red-tagging was “baseless and dangerous,” and could put the lives of those accused in danger. —WITH A REPORT FROM JOVIC YEE

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TAGS: Cardema, Comelec, Duterte Youth, Kontra Daya, NYC, Party list
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