Groups vow to take Duterte Youth case before Supreme Court as Ducielle Cardema sworn in
Speaker Lord Allan Velasco swears in Ducielle Cardema as a member of the House on Tuesday, October 13.
(Screengrab from Congress' Facebook page)

Groups vow to take Duterte Youth case before Supreme Court as Ducielle Cardema sworn in

(Philstar.com) - October 13, 2020 - 9:03pm

MANILA, Philippines — Several groups have vowed to take the case against the Duterte Youth party-list before the Supreme Court after its representative Ducielle Cardema was sworn in as a member of Congress on Tuesday afternoon, much to the youth's dismay. 

Commission on Elections chairman Sheriff Abas told lawmakers at a budget hearing in September that Cardema had been issued a certificate of proclamation which a group of laywers called as the "most unconstitutional act" by Comelec in its decades-old history. 

The party-list won a seat in the midterm elections in 2019, but it had spelled all the trouble for its nominee Ronald, whose age at 34 led Comelec to disqualify him on the grounds that he is overaged, with his wife Ducielle substituting for him.

Speaking at a virtual gathering of the Youth Act Now Against Tyranny, lawyer Emil Marañon said this is not the end of their campaign to prevent the party-list "who will go beyond the law" just to sit in Congress. 

"Even if we didn't win in the fight in Comelec, we will do our best to go to the Supreme Court where we hope justice will prevail," he said in mixed Filipino and English. 

Marañon represents youth leaders Reeya Magtalas, Abigail Tan, Raainah Punzalan and Aunell Angcos, who had filed a petition before Comelec questioning Duterte Youth's accreditation.

He added that they were surprised for Ducielle to be sworn in despite Comelec yet to make public her proclamation and with her yet to take oath as the party-list's nominee. 

"This goes to show what kind of a party-list they are and a nominee Cardema is," Marañon said. "The problem here is, how will you make legislation if you could not even abide by the law?"

University of the Philippines professor Danilo Arao, the lead convenor of poll watchdog Kontra Daya, said it was a mistake for Congress to swear in Cardema with cases against the party-list still pending. 

He added that for an administration that claims to abide by the rule of law, the incident showed otherwise and that what prevails is "the law of the ruler."

"We know that the Duterte Youth follows through with the administration in serving for its own interests," he said in Filipino. "We will explore all legal measures [and] we will take the issue to the streets just to ensure that we will block Duterte Youth from assuming a seat in Congress."

Arao also took a swipe on Ronald Cardema for using his post as chairman of the National Youth Commission to campaign during the 2019 polls. 

Various youth groups including those from universities across the country strongly rejected that the party-list represents the Filipino youth, holding signs that bore the Twitter hashtag "#BlockDuterteYouth."

"Cardema was hailed as an "honorable" on this day, but no part of them nor of the Duterte Youth will ever be worth honoring," the National Union of Students of the Philippines said.

Speaker Lord Allan Velasco (Marinduque) who earlier today was installed as the chamber's leader, led the swearing in of Ducielle who was with her husband Ronald. The development came after days of power struggle in the House between Velasco and ousted leader Alan Peter Cayetano, both allies of President Rodrigo Duterte who entered in a term-sharing deal in 2019.

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