By Minka Klaudia Tiangco
Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Rowena Guanzon has branded Ronald Cardema’s substitution bid as Duterte Youth Party-list nominee a mockery of the country’s democratic processes.
Guanzon was the lone dissenter in the poll body’s decision to “give due course to the nomination” of Cardema as substitute nominee of the Duterte Youth Partylist.
“I am of the view that the substitute-nominees failed to timely file their Certificates of Nomination and Acceptance (CONAs) and that they do not meet the age requirement prescribed under Section 9 of Republic Act No. 7941 (R.A. No. 7941) for nominees of the youth sector,” she said in her dissenting opinion.
“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,” she added.
Guanzon pointed out that, according to their (CONAs), Cardema is aged 34 as he was born on April 12, 1985 while the other nominees are aged between 31 to 36 years old.
Section 9 of Republic Act No. 7941, or the Party-list System Act, states that a nominee of the youth sector must be at least 25 but no more than 30 years old on Election Day.
Earlier, Cardema defended his substitution by saying the Duterte Youth Partylist represents both the youth and professional sectors, and the latter does not have an age limit.
But Guanzon said none of the documents filed by the group “show intent to register, or justify its registration, as an organization representing the professional or any other sector, other than the youth sector.”
“Their ineligibilities, therefore, are clear and unmistakable on the face of their respective CONAs. Their ineligibilities are beyond dispute,” her dissenting opinion read.
“Certainly, the Commission cannot be rendered powerless or otherwise just turn a blind eye to these ineligibilities which are immediately apparent on the face of the CONAs and which the substitutes themselves unequivocally declared therein under oath,” it added.
The commissioner also noted that the nominees violated Comelec rules when they filed their CONAs.
Comelec Resolution No. 8665 states that documents can be filed before the Comelec on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., excluding holidays.
But the substitute nominees of the Duterte Youth Party-list filed their notices of substitution on Sunday, May 12, at about 5:30 p.m.
“Clearly the filing of notices of withdrawal and the CONAs of the substitute nominees was attended by glaring procedural anomalies,” she said.
“The filing of the notices of withdrawal and the substitutes’ CONAs on a prohibited day renders the said filing irregular and illegal. As such the Commission cannot recognize the existence of and give legal effect to the said filing. It was as if no such notices were filed at all,” she added.
Meanwhile, poll watchdog group Kontra Daya urged the Comelec, not only to “reprimand” Cardema, but also to disqualify the Duterte Youth Party-list.
The poll watchdog claimed that the partylist fielded “dummy nominees” who could be “conveniently replaced by a new set of nominees at the 11th hour.”
Kontra Daya also said that by giving due course to Cardema’s nomination, the Comelec “further besmirched whatever is left of the reputation of the poll body.”
“Why should the poll body spend even just one second entertaining a petition that makes a mockery of the party-list system?” the group said in a statement.
“As he tries to engage in legal acrobatics, Cardema treats the Comelec as an institutional marionette whose strings are pulled from his political patrons,” they added.
Comelec Chairman Sheriff Abas and Commissioners Al Parreño, Socorro Inting, Marlon Casquejo, and Antonio Kho approved Cardema’s substitution bid on Tuesday.
Commissioner Luie Tito Guia abstained from voting to stay “consistent” of his stance on Duterte Youth as he had earlier voted against its accreditation as a party-list group.