Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon stressed her colleagues in the poll body have only given “due course” to Cardema’s application to be the substitute-nominee of the group.
Comelec: Party-list substitution still has to hurdle DQ petitions
Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) - June 6, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Former National Youth Commission chairman Ronald Cardema cannot sit as representative of the Duterte Youth party-list unless the petitions for disqualifications filed against him are resolved, an official of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said yesterday.

Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon stressed her colleagues in the poll body have only given “due course” to Cardema’s application to be the substitute-nominee of the group.

She said the substitution is not yet granted because of petitions filed to oppose his application. So far, 10 petitions against Cardema’s substitution have been lodged before the Comelec.

“Duterte Youth will have no representative (in the House of Representatives) until the disqualification petition versus Cardema is resolved,” Guanzon noted in an interview.

Guanzon also posted on her Twitter account that “after June 30, the Comelec (still) has jurisdiction over the disqualification petition against Cardema.”

She added that Cardema had “circumvented the law” and “it is against public policy.”

Last June 3, Guanzon dissented to a Comelec resolution giving due course to the application of Cardema and four others to become susbtitute-nominees of Duterte Youth.

At the same time, the poll body granted the withdrawal of the five original nominees whom Cardema’s group wants to replace.

But for Guanzon, the Comelec should junk the application of Cardema’s group because they “failed to timely file” their certificates of nomination and acceptance (CONAs) and they do not meet the age requirements.

She maintained that the poll body, “in the exercise of its administrative power, should deny due course to the CONAs of the substitute nominees on the ground of ineligibility.”

Comelec assailed

Poll watchdog Kontra Daya convenor Danilo Arao hit the Comelec for giving due course to Cardema’s petition, saying “if only Comelec could see through the travesty, they would immediately dismiss Cardema’s last-minute petition for the outright mockery.”

Arao noted that Cardema “tries to engage in legal acrobatics” and “treats the Comelec as an institutional marionette whose strings are pulled (by) his political patrons.”

“Comelec Resolution No. 10529 ‘giving due course’ to the application for substitution of Ronald Cardema to be the first nominee of Duterte Youth begs a fundamental question: why should the poll body spend even just one second entertaining a petition that makes a mockery of the party-list system?” he added.

He said that Comelec should “strongly reprimand” Cardema for his “insulting audacity” and also “to assuage any suspicion of betrayal of public trust.”

Arao added the poll body should also disqualify Duterte Youth “for the resulting mockery” of the party-list system.

Random manual audit

Meanwhile, second-highest party-list winner Bayan Muna yesterday protested the exclusion of party-list votes in the ongoing random manual audit (RMA) of ballots cast in the May 13 elections.

In a letter to the Comelec, Bayan Muna said one of the objectives of the audit “is to check the accuracy of the automated elections and to assure candidates and the public in general that their votes have been duly recorded and counted by the vote counting machines (VCMs).”

“In line with this objective, the RMA shall be transparent, participative and credible, as stated in Comelec Resolution No. 10525,” it said.

Bayan Muna noted that the resolution includes in the vote check ballots cast for “member, House of Representatives.”

It reminded the poll body that such term refers to representatives elected from legislative districts and party-list groups.

Party-list votes should thus be included in the manual audit, it stressed.

The group pointed out that including party-list votes in the random assessment “will ensure that the vote counting machines accurately read the back portion of the ballots, a major contentious issue in the last elections.”

“The exclusion of party-list votes in the audit has raised issues and questions as to the integrity of the VCMs and the 2019 national and local elections,” it said.

Bayan Muna won three seats, while an allied group, Anakpawis, failed to make it.

More than 20 other incumbent party-list organizations lost.

Reps. Alfredo Garbin Jr. of Ako Bicol, John Bertiz of ACTS-OFW and Orestes Salon of Agri are claiming a failure of elections in the party-list race.

Garbin said at least nine million of their votes had been disenfranchised because they missed the list of participating party-list groups at the back portion of the ballots.

“On May 13, the total number of votes cast for 134 party-list groups was 27 million. In the 2016 elections, it was 36 million for almost the same number of organizations. The difference is nine million disenfranchised voters. That is a big loss,” he said.

He cited the case of his own group, whose bailiwick is the Bicol region.

“In 2016, Ako Bicol received 1.7 million votes equivalent to three seats in the House of Representatives. In this year’s elections, we were credited with almost 400,000 votes fewer. As a result, Ako Bicol’s representation has been reduced from three seats to two,” he said.

Garbin said in Bicol, Ako Bicol received 1.1 million votes in 2016 and 700,000 on May 13, or a loss of 400,000 votes.

“Why would we lose votes in our bailiwick?” he asked.

Salon, for his part, said his organization got more than 600,000 votes in 2016, entitling it to two House seats.

“This year, our votes went down drastically to 133,000, not even enough for one seat. We lost even in areas where we are strong. That is impossible,” he said.– With Jess Diaz

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