MANILA -- It is up to lawmakers to prevent party-list groups from fielding "stand-in" nominees that can later be replaced with their real candidates, a spokesperson of the Commission on Elections said Thursday, as it weighed a substitution plea by the Duterte Youth group.
Former youth commissioner Rolando Cardema has sought to replace the nominees of the pro-administration party-list, including his wife, after they backed out of their nomination.
One nominee said she wanted to spend time with her family, while another cited passion for teaching "without actually emphasizing how that conflicts with service in Congress," said Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez.
"There is no list of approved reasons for withdrawing... Clearly, the bar for that is rather low. It does open an avenue for people to be putting in stand-ins or placeholders," he told ANC.
"If it is a problem, it has to be remedied... legislatively. That's not something the Comelec can intervene in," he added.
CHALLANGE VS CARDEMA
Cardema's substitution plea was filed on the eve of the May 13 polls, months after the November 28, 2018 deadline.
Under the law, he is also 3 years over the age limit of 30 for those who want to represent the youth sector, as provided under the Party-list System Act.
Cardema argued that the restriction does not apply to him because Duterte Youth also represents the professional sector.
Some "exceptional procedural rules" allow substitution filing on a non-working day beyond the deadline, said Jimenez.
The Comelec, however, still needs to sort out "various legal issues" about Cardema's substitution, including his age and the nature of his party-list, said the official
"If anyone can prove that he was in fact actively campaigning and using the resources of the NYC to campaign for any particular party-list group, then that would be a problematic situation for him," he added.
Asked if Cardema's links to the administration may influence the case, Jimenez said,"It certainly adds to the attention this case is getting, but pressure on the commissioners, no, I don't think so. I think the commissioners are remarkably independent as well."