By Martin Sadongdong
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is expected to release its decision Sunday on the petition of National Youth Commission (NYC) chairman Ronald Cardema to be a substitute nominee for the Duterte Youth Partylist.
Comelec Assistant Director Frances Arabe said Saturday night that Cardema had filed the petition for substitution on May 12, the day before the elections, after all five nominees of the Duterte Youth Partylist apparently withdrew their nomination.
Under the Comelec rules, the deadline for the filing of the petition for substitution for partylist nominees is before the closing of the voting period of the election day or in this case, before 6 p.m. of May 13, Arabe stated.
“The petition for substitution [of Cardema] is dated May 12, 2019. It was filed before the election day,” Arabe confirmed.
Just how controversial is this case?
Cardema, who was appointed by President Duterte as the chair of the NYC, is also the chairman of the Duterte Youth.
“This is partylist, these are nominees, these are not regular candidates. So for regular candidates, the rule is that if you are in an appointive position, you occupy a permanent position or civil service position, then you are deemed resigned,” Arabe said.
“At the time, hindi siya nominee. We don’t even know if he has filed his resignation. So we have to find out also. I think the law department has already studied the matter,” she added.
Whether Cardema had resigned or not when he filed the petition for substitution had already been the subject of scrutiny by the Comelec en banc, Arabe said.
“It’s part of the recommendation of the law department to the Commission en banc,” she stressed.
Arabe disclosed that the case where all party nominees of a partylist group withdraw to give way to a substitute candidate is “allowed by the law.”
“I was told that it has happened all the time. That’s what the law department says,” she noted.
The Comelec official confirmed that there were similar cases in the past where the substitute nominee’s petition was approved by the Commission en banc.
“As long as he complied with the requirements of the law, yes [it can be approved],” Arabe said.
In essence, a partylist group’s purpose is to represent a marginalized sector of the society in the Congress.
The Duterte Youth Partylist, one of the 134 partylist groups competing in the midterm elections, is a right-winged group whose members support the administration of President Duterte.
As of 8 p.m., the Duterte Youth was in 20th place in the partylist race with 340,258 votes.