At yesterday’s first hearing of the Comelec’s First Division, Commissioner Rowena Guanzon said Ronald Cardema should stop talking about the case since the hearings have already started.
Comelec gags Ronald Cardema, critics on party-list seat
Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) - June 12, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has issued a gag order against Ronald Cardema and those opposed to his becoming a substitute nominee of Duterte Youth party-list group.

At yesterday’s first hearing of the Comelec’s First Division, Commissioner Rowena Guanzon said Cardema should stop talking about the case since the hearings have already started.

“Please refrain from giving interviews because we are now holding hearings so the case is already sub judice... He has been very talkative lately,” Guanzon said. She also issued similar orders to the petitioners.

As of last count, more than 10 petitions have been filed against Cardema, but the hearing only involves the case filed by National Union of Students of the Philippines spokesman Raoul Danniel Manuel; College Editors Guild of the Philippines secretary general Paula Sabrine Janer and Youth Act Now Against Tyranny convenor Raainah Punzalan.

This developed as the former chairpersons and commissioners of the National Youth Commission (NYC), where Cardema used to hold office, sought his outright dismissal as substitute-nominee for the party-list group.

In a statement, the officials said the application of Cardema’s group and the withdrawal of nomination of the party-list’s original nominees “are deemed to be fraught with irregularities and attended by glaring procedural anomalies.”

“This circumvention of electoral laws and the extraordinary accommodation to non-members of the youth sector effectively disenfranchise the very sector they seek to represent,” they said.

The statement was signed by former chairpersons Cariza “Ice” Seguerra, Gregorio Ramon Tingson and Leon Flores III and commissioners Jose Sixto Dantes III, Percival Cendaña, JP Peñol and Erwin Andaya.

They added that Cardema and his group “undisputedly fall outside the prescribed age set by law” to become nominees of the party-list groups as they are all over 30 years old.

At the Comelec hearing, the petitioners’ lawyer Emilio Marañon III said Cardema’s substitution should not be allowed since he is already 34 years old.

Marañon said Cardema is not eligible since Duterte Youth is registered as a sectoral representative of the youth. Under the law, its nominees should be aged 25-30.

“There is a misrepresentation on his part regarding his qualification. His nomination should be cancelled,” he added.

Cardema’s lawyer George Erwin Garcia however denied his client had committed misrepresentation.

Garcia argued the Duterte Youth represents not only the youth but even the “young professionals” to which Cardema belongs.

“There was no misrepresentation because Duterte Youth is a group that aims to represent the youth and the young professionals. It intends to represent two sectors,” he said.

Marañon dismissed the argument, saying it was hardly indicated in any of the submissions, records and constitution and bylaws of the Duterte Youth.

He added Cardema never publicly talked about representing the young professionals.

The party-list group had also submitted to Comelec that only “Duterte Youth” should appear on the official ballots, the lawyer said.

Guanzon said the group should have not encountered such problems had Cardema not “kicked out” from the nominees list his wife Ducielle Marie Suarez, who is below 30 years old.

During the hearing, it was found the Duterte Youth received last June 6 the resolution of the Comelec dated June 3, which gives due course to Cardema’s substitution.

But until yesterday, Cardema admitted they have not complied with the rule to have the list of new nominees published in a newspaper within five days after receiving the resolution.

This means the resolution is not yet in effect.

The group had committed to have the resolution published today, after which the petitioners will submit their new opposition.

This developed as the Comelec has issued Certifications of Proclamation (COP) to 39 of the 51 party-list groups that won seats at the House of Representatives.

These are Bayan Muna, Patrol, Kabayan, Abono, Amin, Bagong Henerasyon, TUCP, Diwa, A Teacher, AGAP, CWS, Bahay, TGP, RAM, Dumper PTDA, Probinsyano Ako, Manila Teachers, Philreca and APEC.

Also having gotten their COPs are RECOBODA, Ako Padayon Pilipino, Kabataan, Marino, Galing sa Puso, 1 Pacman, Ako Bisaya, An Waray, Ako Bicol, Ang Probinsyano, Tingog, Sagip, LPGMA, OFW, ACT-CIS, Alona, Kalinga, Abang Lingkod and BHW.

As a policy, party-list representatives will not be able to sit at the House without the COP.

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