May 19, 2019

Duterte Youth not only wants to replace its original set of nominees at the 11th hour. It also hopes to install an overeager and overaged government official publicly known to be a lapdog of the Marcoses and the Dutertes.

Based on a clarification from the Commission on Elections (COMELEC), National Youth Commission (NYC) Chair Ronald Cardema filed a petition on May 12 (Sunday), 5:30 p.m. to substitute himself and other new nominees after all five of the original set of nominees, including his wife and another relative, formally withdrew.

Just to be clear, Duterte Youth is the acronym for “Duty to Energize the Republic through the Enlightenment of the Youth Sectoral Partylist Organization.” From its name and program of action, the group is essentially a youth sector party. Section 9 of the Party-list System Act of 1995 clearly states that a youth sector nominee “must at least be twenty-five (25) but not more than thirty (30) years of age on the day of the election.”

Again, just to be clear, Cardema is already 33 years old.

Cardema tries to muddle the clarity of the facts, however, by apparently claiming that Duterte Youth seeks to represent the youth of Region IV-A. This is a cheap shot at exempting himself from the age requirement for youth sector nominees.

It may interest the public to know that based on the official COCs in Region IV-A, Duterte Youth got a measly 54,256 votes or 16% of its total votes based on the latest partial, official count.

The COMELEC should not tolerate such legal acrobatics by political gymnasts whose greatest strength is closeness to the Palace. There are two main reasons why the COMELEC should dismiss outright the (il)legal maneuvering of Cardema.

First, it is patently brazen, illogical and illegal. Second, there is public perception of COMELEC’s lack of independence from Malacañan Palace. Should this brazen attempt to circumvent the law and make a mockery of the party-list system get the approval of COMELEC, we can only conclude that the poll body is indeed under the thumb of Malacañan Palace.

COMELEC should dismiss the Cardema substitution and look into the gross poll violations the group has committed in its quest to gain a seat in Congress. The poll body should save whatever little is left of the integrity of the party-list system.

Contact person: Danilo Arao, convenor, Kontra Daya