Poll watchdog to Comelec: No rush on Duterte Youth’s House seat

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    A POLL watchdog group yesterday urged the Commission on Elections (Comelec) against rushing its decision whether or not to allow the Duterte Youth party-list to assume its seat in the House of Representatives.

    In an interview, Kontra Daya convenor Danilo Arao echoed Commissioner Rowena Guanzon’s position that the Comelec should first resolve all pending cases versus Duterte Youth as well as second nominee Ducielle Cardema before it decides to issue a Certificate of Proclamation (COP) to the party-list.

    “It is bad enough that (Duterte Youth first nominee) Ronald Cardema wasted the time and insulted the intelligence of the Comelec, election watchdogs, and the electorate with his flimsy motions to fulfill his personal ambition to have a party-list seat in the House. It would be worst if Duterte Youth as a party-list would be allowed to get away with murder, so to speak,” Arao said.

    “We are with Commissioner Guanzon’s stand regarding the status of Duterte Youth,” he added.

    Arao maintained that Duterte Youth has no right to occupy a seat in Congress given its numerous violations and questionable activities, among them its alleged material misrepresentation of its nominees as well as supposed misuse of government funds during the party-list’s campaign.

    He also pointed at the illegal use of the House of Representatives logo in its tarpaulins during the campaign period, which is a clear violation of House rules.

    “Duterte Youth is indeed a questionable entity and it should be denied a seat in the HOR even if it supposedly has enough votes for one seat,” he stressed.

    “We don’t want Comelec to be a party to a brazen irregularity,” Arao said.

    Last February 5, the Comelec ruled with finality the disqualification of Cardema as the first nominee of Duterte Youth after he was found to be overaged as a youth sector party-list representative, which requires its nominees to be between 25 to 30 years old.

    In the same decision, the Comelec en banc said it is “only proper that Duterte Youth now occupy a seat in the House of Representatives” since questions on Cardema’s eligibility has already been decided with finality.

    But according to Guanzon, a COP should only be issued when there is no more legal impediment for its issuance, or when there is no longer any ground to suspend the proclamation.

    The Comelec has yet to rule on two pending motions against the party-list: the “Petition to Cancel Party-List Registration and/or to Declare Nullity of its Registration” filed against Duterte Youth, and a “Petition for Disqualification (ad cautelam)” lodged versus Ducielle Cardema.