Comelec: Duterte Youth's 30-somethings should justify 'youth' in name
This photo shows National Youth Commission Chair Ronald Cardema (center) with President Rodrigo Duterte.
Facebook/National Youth Commission

Comelec: Duterte Youth's 30-somethings should justify 'youth' in name

Rosette Adel (Philstar.com) - June 6, 2019 - 1:31pm

MANILA, Philippines— The Duterte Youth's substitute nominees should be able to answer questions on whether they are too old to represent the actual youth of the country, the Commission on Elections said Thursday morning.

Under the Party-list System Act, only nominees who are between 25 and 30 years old can be representatives of the youth sector. Only one of the Duterte Youth nominees is below 30, prompting ANC's Christian Esguerra to say on "Early Edition" that the issue is seems easy to resolve. 

“You would think that, which is why we are just waiting for [the Comelec en banc] to come up with a resolution, so hopefully we can have that resolution out very soon,” Jimenez said on the same show.

Jimenez said the substitute nominees of the Duterte Youth should prove they are qualified representatives, adding the question of age is "easy to prove because it is a matter of records."

"These are questions that we should ask them. In fact, they’re the ones that put the ‘youth’ in their name, right? So, that's something that they have to vindicate,” he also said.

The Comelec spokesman admitted that the Duterte Youth case would set a lot of precedents for the upcoming polls because of the questions on age and late filing.

Cardema has defended his nomination, saying there is no age limit for party-lists that represent "youth and professionals," which he says the Duterte Youth is actually for. 

Withdrawal allowed, substitution 'given due course'

Last Tuesday, the Comelec released an excerpt of its en banc resolution granting the withdrawals of the Certificates of Acceptance of Nomination of the following initial Duterte Youth nominees:

  • Ducielle Marie Suarez (Cardema's wife)
  • Joseph De Guzman
  • Benilde De Guzman
  • Amaldo Villafranca
  • Elizabeth Anne Cardema

READ: Original Duterte Youth nominees unwilling, unready for Congress

They resolved to give due course to the nomination of the following new nominees as substitutes:

  • Ronald Gian Carlo Cardema
  • Gian Carlo Galang
  • Catherine Santos
  • Kerwin Pagaran
  • Sharah Shane Makabali

The poll body also denied due course to the nomination as substitute of Allan Kevin Payawal as the sixth nominee the Duterte Youth only named five nominees last October.

"Given due course" means a petition has moved forward but does not necessarily mean it has been approved or disapproved.

READ: Comelec Commisioner Guanzon: Cardema’s party-list substitution ‘not yet granted’

Petition filed late, substitute nominees too old

Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon, the lone dissenter, however, voted against even grating due course to the Certificate of Nomination and Acceptance of Cardema, Galang, Santos, Pagaran, Makabali and Payawal.

“I am of the view that the substitute-nominees failed to timely file their CONAs and that they do not meet the age requirement prescribed under the Section 9 of Republic Act No. 7941,” she said.

Section 9 of the Party-list System Act stated that a nominee of the youth sector must not be more than 30 years old.

According to documents the substitute nominees submitted, Cardema is 34, Galang is 36, Santos is 33 and Pagaran is 31. Makabali is 29 making her the only substitute-nominee qualified.

"These declarations therefore must be taken as an absolute statement and categorical admission of fact that is binding substitute nominees, settles any and all questions as to their age, and renders such factual matter beyond dispute," Guanzon said.

“In simpler terms, Cardema, Galang, Santos and Pagaran asked for substitution in the same document where they categorically declared and admitted their ineligibility,” she added.

For their ineligibility, Guanzon said due course for the aspiring substitute-nominees must be rejected by the Comelec en banc.

“In the exercise of its administrative function, it must deny due course to the CONAs of Cardema, Galang, Santos, and Pagaran,” the commissioner said.

“The Commission cannot sit idly by and allow this unbashed 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 added.

'Too late to push for more qualified nominees'

Asked if the Duterte Youth shall lodge in new substitute nominees to qualify for the age limit, Jimenez replied: “I don't know if there's any justification now for them to put in another nominee.”

He added it is already too late for that.

“I don’t know what's gonna happen if all five of the approved applicants for substitution are suddenly ruled disqualified. I don’t know if an opposition against one particular nominee will reach out to everyone else in the same boat as him. That's something that were all eagerly awaiting,” Jimenez said.

“It's never been in question that this is a weird situation where you have people who are obviously outside of the age bracket for the youth claiming to represent the youth especially in the face of an explicit requirement in the law that the youth representative should be at a certain age,” he said.

'Comelec will resolve issues on substitution properly'

Despite these issues hounding the substitution plea of Duterte-Youth, Jimenez is confident that the Comelec will decide on the matter “properly.”

“Again we are looking forward to the Commission resolving it. I have faith that the Commission will resolve it properly,” he added.

Duterte Youth won one seat in the 2019 midterm polls. The first nominee approved will sit as the party's representative on June 30.

Guanzon said “Duterte Youth will not have a [representative] in the HOR (House of Representatives) until the [disqualification] petition is resolved.”

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