Guanzon: Duterte Youth ruling a mockery
MANILA, Philippines — For two glaring reasons, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) should have denied the substitution application of the nominees of the Duterte Youth party list, including that of former National Youth Commission (NYC) Chair Ronald Cardema, Election Commissioner Rowena Guanzon said on Wednesday.
The seven-member Comelec voted on Monday to give “due course to the substitution bid of Duterte Youth” and subsequently resolved to grant the withdrawal of the certificates of nomination and acceptance (Conas) of Cardema’s wife, Ducielle, and four others.
“I am of the view that the substitute-nominees failed to timely file their [Conas] and that they do not meet the age requirement prescribed under Section 9 of the Republic Act No. 7941 for nominees of the Youth Sector,” Guanzon said in her eight-page dissenting opinion.
The lone dissenter in the Comelec ruling, Guanzon said Cardema and the other new nominees filed their notice of substitution at 5:30 p.m. on May 12, a Sunday, contrary to Resolution No. 8665, which prescribes the filing of pleadings or motions only during office hours on regular work days.
“The filing of notices of withdrawal and the substitutes’ Conas on a prohibited day renders the said filing irregular and illegal,” she said.
The poll official also pointed out that Cardema and the other substitute nominees were not eligible to represent the youth sector since the 34-year-old Cardema and the three other nominees, age 31 to 36, “failed to comply with the age requirement.”
Under the Party List System Act, a nominee of the youth sector must be at least 25 years old but not over 30 on Election Day.
“The commission cannot sit idly by and allow this unabashed mockery and assault to our democratic processes and institutions to go unchastised. To do so would be tantamount to an abnegation of its constitutional duty,” Guanzon said.
The poll watchdog Kontra Daya on Wednesday called on the Comelec to reprimand Cardema and disqualify the Duterte Youth for circumventing election laws.
“[The Comelec ruling] begs a fundamental question: Why should the poll body spend even just one second entertaining a petition that makes a mockery of the party list system?” Danny Arao, a convener of Kontra Daya, said in a statement.
“Given the benefit of hindsight, Cardema’s salivation for a seat in the House of Representatives against all legal odds now makes it clear that the Duterte Youth fielded ‘dummy nominees’ in October 2018 who were all conveniently replaced by a new set of nominees at the 11th hour,” Arao added.
By approving the application of the Duterte Youth’s new set of nominees, he said, the five election commissioners who voted in favor of the resolution — Chair Sheriff Abas as well as Al Parreño, Socorro Inting, Marlon Casquejo and Antonio Kho Jr.—besmirched the reputation of the poll body.
Loretta “Etta” Rosales, chair emeritus of Akbayan and former chair of Commission on Human Rights, said the poll body’s ruling put its integrity in question.
Disqualified from start
“Undisputed facts showed that Mr. Cardema, from the very start, was disqualified for the job,” Rosales said.
The Comelec’s decision, she said, “puts the majority members of the Comelec in question regarding their perspective of the Party List, Political Party and Electoral Reforms as tools for democracy.”
“It is the rule of law that the Comelec must uphold in order to ensure that the human rights of the people, especially those at the margins, are protected and fulfilled,” she said. —With a report from Patricia Denise Chiu
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