Comelec’s nod for Cardema’s Duterte Youth role raises more questions

June 6, 2019 - 1:21 PM
Former National Youth Commission Chair Ronald Cardema with President Rodrigo Duterte and Senator Bong Go (Facebook/Ronald Gian Carlo Cardema)

The Commission on Elections’ approval of the substitution of Ronald Cardema, a staunch and controversial supporter of the president, as nominee of Duterte Youth party-list was questioned anew for the legal issues surrounding it.

Cardema filed the substitution appeal on a Sunday, May 12, and the poll body accepted it even if it was submitted on a non-working day.

After nearly a month, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez announced on Twitter that Cardema’s appeal was approved with one dissenting commissioner and another who abstained.

What Comelec approved, however, was the withdrawal of Duterte Youth’s five initial nominees.

“Upon evaluation, we find the withdrawals of the certificate of acceptance of nomination with substitution of all the nominees of Duterte Youth with respective reasons of such withdrawals in compliance with Section 8 of RA 7941 and Sections 4 and 5, Rule 4 of Resolution No. 9366,” part of the resolution stated.

Those who withdrew are

  1. Ducielle Marie D. Suarez
  2. Joseph M. De Guzman
  3. Benilda C. De Guzman
  4. Amaldo B. Villafranca
  5. Elizabeth Anne F. Cardema

Suarez is Cardema’s wife while the fifth nominee is also a relative of theirs.

Their reasons for backing out of the nominations include being unable to fulfill the expectations of the party and choosing their families first.

Because the withdrawals of all five have been granted, the Comelec then allowed them to be replaced with five new names including Cardema himself.

The five substitutes are

  1. Ronald Gian Carlo L. Cardema
  2. Gian Carlo Galang
  3. Catherine R. Santos
  4. Kerwin M. Pagaran
  5. Sharah Shane T. Makabali

The relationship of Cardema with the new nominees and the time of their names were submitted are not indicated.

Commissioner Rowena Guanzon, the lone dissenter in the decision, argued that the decision applies to the application and not to the substitution.

Guanzon cited a pending petition from the opposition and the fact he is is over-aged to be in the position in the first place as the reasons for not granting the request.

“His substitution is not yet granted because there is a pending petition or opposition on the ground that he us over 30 years old and cannot be a representative of a youth sector party-list,” she tweeted.

Meanwhile, Commissioner Luie Tito Guia, the one who abstained, remained consistent with his earlier vote to reject the accreditation of Duterte Youth as a party-list.

“I abstained to be consistent with my earlier vote to deny the accreditation,” Guia said in the resolution.

Other legal issues

The Comelec’s nod to Cardema’s request raises yet more questions.

One argument is it goes against several provisions of Comelec Resolution 3307-A that contains the rules and regulations on nominees of party-list representatives.

Reason for withdrawal

Individuals chosen to represent a party-list have since sworn in writing and under oath their acceptance of being nominated before elections.

Therefore, in Section 18, it is stated that a party-list nominee can only withdraw “when he dies, or his nomination is withdrawn by the party, or he becomes incapacitated to continue as such, or he withdraws his acceptance to the nomination.”

Submission of substitution names

During the submission of names, Section 15 stated that:

“No change of name or alteration of the order of nominees shall be allowed after the list has been submitted to the Commission, except in valid cases of substitution.”

Hence, there should be no applications for substitution once Election Day is over.

Cardema made the last-minute petition on May 12, which is the day before the mid-term polls.

Critics argued that this should not be allowed because the date happened to be Sunday and government offices are closed.