Empty party-list seat looms for Duterte Youth: poll commissioner

Christian V. Esguerra, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 17 2019 03:39 PM


MANILA—The Duterte Youth party-list group may end up with no representative for insisting on seating its disqualified nominee, an election commissioner said.

Ronald Cardema on Tuesday asked the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to reconsider his disqualification, a move facing serious hurdles before the en banc following a 2-0 vote against him in the first division.

His group nominated him again in a new list submitted a day after he was disqualified for going beyond the age limit of 30 years old for youth sector representatives. Cardema is 34. 

Petitioners said the submission clearly violated the rule that no substitution would be allowed after the May 13 elections.

 YOUTH ADVOCACY

The Duterte Youth, which won one party-list seat, might lose both the motion for reconsideration and its bid for a new set of nominees, said Commissioner Rowena Guanzon.

“In my opinion, no one will get to sit... What a waste,” she told ABS-CBN News.

“Who is to blame? Cardema is to blame. His wife could have qualified but he changed her last minute.”

In his motion, Cardema denied committing “material misrepresentation” in his nomination, saying his group’s registration was not limited to the youth sector but also included young professionals.

Defining “young professionals,” he said, was “internal” to his party-list group.

“For the youth sector, in particular, one can be a nominee even if he or she is beyond the age of 30 provided he or she has a track record of advocacy for the youth group,” said Cardema, formerly chair of the National Youth Commission. 

Cardema sought to replace his wife on the eve of the elections in a highly criticized substitution bid. He later included her as a second nominee in the new list following his disqualification.

“He has done, at every turn, all attempts to circumvent the rules and the law,” Guanzon said.

 ‘ESPOUSING VIOLENCE’

The commissioner warned the group might also be disqualified later on, saying the poll body “cannot tolerate lies and false testimonies” in its nominations.

Guanzon also called attention to supposed threats earlier made by the Duterte Youth to harm organizations it believed were fronting for the communist movement.

“That’s another ground for cancelling their registration because they’re espousing violence. They cannot deny that,” she said.

“That’s a crime when you threaten people with harm or threaten them that you would kill them.”

During the campaign, Cardema clarified that warnings posted on his group’s Facebook page meant that it would engage left-leaning party-list organizations in debates in the House of Representatives.

“They have no respect at all, including sending me threats through text messages,” said Guanzon, who believes Cardema’s group was behind the threats.

Duterte Youth members, she said, would not have sent the messages “had they not perceived that Cardema was of the same mind.”