Cardema’s plea questions Comelec jurisdiction over disqualification case
MANILA, Philippines — Former National Youth Commission chairman Ronald Cardema has appealed his case before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) by questioning the poll body’s jurisdiction to rule over his qualification as the first nominee of the Duterte Youth party-list.
In his motion for reconsideration, Cardema asserted that his case should be resolved by the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) and not Comelec.
According to Cardema, Duterte Youth, “through its first nominee, already has the right to serve as the party-list representative” since the election was already held and the party-list group has already secured its mandate.
“Whether a nominee is qualified or not is inconsequential since the matter of his qualifications will then fall under the sole jurisdiction of the HRET,” Cardema noted, citing Section 17, Article VI of the Constitution, which states the date and time when newly-elected public servants shall assume office – June 30, 12 noon.
But Comelec said that under the same provision of the Constitution, HRET could only interfere with all contests relating to the election, returns, and qualifications if the representative has already been proclaimed.
Duterte Youth party-list has not yet received its certificate of proclamation from Comelec, and the poll body will not give it to the group as long as the case of Cardema remains pending before them.
Should this be the case, Cardema then said it should be the Comelec en banc that should discuss his disqualification issue and not just the poll body’s First Division.
“This is so because it was the Comelec En Banc, sitting as the [National Board of Canvassers] of party-lists, which declared the 51 party-list organizations/groups as winners in the party-list elections of 2019, entitled to 61 seats at the House of Representatives to serve for a term of three years beginning at noon of June 30, 2019,” pointed out Cardema, underscoring Duterte Youth victorious bid in the recent midterm elections.
“What is more, it is also the Commission En Banc which granted the withdrawal of the original list of nominees of Duterte Youth and gave due course to the substitution by the new set of nominees, including herein respondent/movant Cardema,” his motion also stated.
He then slammed as “baseless” Comelec First Division’s decision to not recognize Duterte Youth as a group representing the youth and young professionals since the Comelec en banc has itself approved Duterte Youth’s registration as party-list for such sectors.
He added that “to limit the qualifications of Duterte Youth’s nominees to the age bracket of 25 to 30 years old is gravely erroneous considering that ‘young professionals’ is devoid of legal meaning or definition.”
The Comelec First Division canceled Cardema’s nomination on the basis of “material misrepresentation” of his age.
Under the party-list law, anyone who wants to be a youth sector representative should only be 25 to 30 years old on election day. Cardema is already 34.
To recall, Duterte Youth re-filed Cardema’s nomination as its first nominee after Comelec canceled it early this month.
The Comelec en banc tackled Cardema’s case but Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon said they deferred to issue a decision on it for further study.
“It was deferred to another week to be studied but one of the primary issues is whether or not they can submit a new list after May 13,” Guanzon told reporters.
“Now once we determine that, we can go on to another issue on whether they are qualified or not. But as you as you know, it’s an open-and-shut case, Cardema is disqualified,” she added. Faye Orellana, INQUIRER.net /kga