MANILA - The last-minute substitution bid of the Duterte Youth party-list members is "irregular," "illegal" and "attended by glaring procedural anomalies," Commission on Elections commissioner Rowena Guanzon said.
Guanzon was the lone Comelec commissioner who disapproved the substitution bid of former National Youth Commission chair Ronald Cardema and 4 other nominees who wanted to represent the youth sector despite breaching the 30-year-old age limit for youth group leaders.
"By their own admission and declaration, they are more than 30 years of age on election day... Their ineligibilities are beyond dispute," Guanzon said in her dissenting opinion.
Cardema was already 34, while other substitute nominees Gian Carlo Galang, Catherine Santos and Kerwin Pagaran were aged between 31 and 36, according to data from documents they submitted to the Comelec.
Cardema earlier said they were not covered by the age limit as the Duterte Youth also represented "young professionals," but Guanzon cited several documents wherein the party-list described itself as the "leading and most vocal youth group in the Philippines."
"In its petition [for accreditation], Duterte Youth was granted registration as a sectoral party representing the Youth Sector," Guanzon noted in her dissenting opinion.
'NOT FILED ACCORDING TO THE RULES'
The Duterte Youth's substitution bid should also be rejected since it was filed during a Sunday, the lone dissenter said.
"The Certificate of Nomination and Acceptance (CONA) of Duterte Youth were not filed according to the rules," Guanzon's opinion read.
"As a rule, pleadings, motions, notices and all other documents may be filed before the Law Department of the Commission, the Clerk of the Commission or the Electoral Contest Adjudication Department during office hours of regular working days," she said.
"Clearly, the filing of the 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."
Guanzon urged the Comelec not to "sit idly by" by allowing "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 said.
Despite Guanzon's dissenting opinion, Comelec chief Sheriff Abas and commissioners Al Parreño,Socorro Inting, Marlon Casquejo, and Antonio Kho Jr. approved Cardema's substitution bid.
Comelec Commissioner Luie Tito Guia abstained from voting as he earlier thumbed down the accreditation of the Duterte Youth as a party-list.