WHILE already being moot and academic, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has affirmed the earlier disqualification of former Duterte Youth nominee Ronald Cardema from representing the party-list in the 18th Congress.
In its nine-page resolution, the Comelec en banc ruled to affirm the ruling of the First Division declaring Cardema as ineligible and, subsequently, declared it as being final after the ally of President Duterte opted to withdraw his Motion for Reconsideration (MR).
“The withdrawal of the MR solidified the ruling in the Assailed Resolution that unmistakenly declared Respondent as not eligible for representation of Duterte Youth in the House of Representatives,” said the resolution promulgated February 5.
“Respondent, by his own voluntary act of withdrawing as the nominee of 1Duterte Youth, has finally accepted the decision of this Commission (First Division) that he is not eligible as a nominee of Duterte Youth, which decision is now final and executory,” it also said.
“Wherefore, premises considered, the Commission En Banc affirms the Resolution dated 05 August 2019 of the Commission (First Division) and resolves to grant the Motion to Withdraw (Verified Motion for Reconsideration filed on August 13, 2019). The Resolution dated 05 August 2019 of the Commission (First Division) is now final and executory,” it said.
The Comelec First Division cancelled the nomination of Cardema as the first nominee of Duterte Youth party-list on August 5, ruling that Cardema, 34, was overaged as youth sector party-list representative, which under the law requires nominees to be between 25 to 30 years old.
Subsequently, Cardema filed his MR on August 13 before the Comelec en banc.
But on September 23, Cardema filed a motion to withdraw the MR, citing his separate act of filing his Notice of Withdrawal as the main reason in withdrawing his appeal.
The Commission en banc backed the initial decision of the First Division in declaring Cardema as ineligible to represent the party-list and the reasons for his disqualification, which includes his being overaged, that Duterte Youth being a party-list for the youth, and his failure to show his shift from being an advocate of the youth sector to professionals.
“All told, we give our stamp of approval to the findings of the Commission (First Division) that Respondent is not eligible for nomination as the youth representative of Duterte Youth in the House of Representatives,” said the Comelec.
Youth leaders Raoul Manuel, Paula Janer, and Raainah Punzalan; and Aunell Angcos, Cyra Aurelio, and Hannah Navarozza filed separate petitions to disqualify Cardema.
In a brief statement, the petitioners’ legal counsel, Emil Marañon, said they are hoping that the decision on Cardema’s case will help pave the way for the quick resolution of their separate petition seeking the cancellation of Duterte Youth’s registration on the grounds of it making untruthful statements as a party-list organization.
“With this final and executory finding of fraud and misrepresentation by the Comelec en banc, the grant of our cancellation petition should now be a matter of course,” said Marañon.