'No one is above the law—even Duterte supporters,' watchdog tells Cardema

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 21 2019 09:54 AM | Updated as of May 21 2019 10:20 AM

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MANILA—Even the supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte should not be above the law, an election watchdog said Tuesday as it slammed the head of the National Youth Commission for supposedly making a "mockery" of party-list rules in his bid to get a House seat. 

Ex-NYC Commissioner Ronald Cardema, 33, is seeking to replace his wife as first nominee of the Duterte Youth party-list, but has faced criticism that he is 3 years over the age limit for a representative of the youth sector. 

Cardema argued that the party-list represents both the youth and the professional sector, with the latter having no age limit. Documents for his substitution were also filed "on time", he said. 

"Malinaw na ito ay mockery ng ating party-list law," said Kontra Daya convenor Danilo Arao. 

(This is a clear mockery of our party-list law.) 

The substitution documents were filed on May 12, depriving watchdogs of enough time to question the move, he told radio DZMM. 
Before this, Cardema also used his post as NYC chair to campaign for Duterte Youth, noted Arao, who is also a professor at the University of the Philippines. 

The Commission on Elections, he added, still needs to determine if the "professionals" that Cardema was referring to are indeed a marginalized sector that should be represented by a party-list. 

"Sana po ay tigilan na niya itong ganitong klaseng pag-circumvent ng batas at aminin niya na talagang ang Duterte Youth ay youth sectoral representative at huwag na niyang i-try i-spin ito para sabihin na exempted sila sa batas," he told radio DZMM. 

(I hope he stops this kind of circumvention of the law and admit that Duterte Youth is a youth sectoral representative, and stop trying to spin this to claim tHat they are exempted from the law.) 

"No one is supposed to be above the law -- even supporters of the Duterte administration," he added.

Cardema earlier called Arao "an attack dog of the leftist party-lists towards other party-lists." 

Arao refused to comment on the remark and urged Cardema to address the points raised against him. 

The Comelec has yet to approve Cardema's bid to become the substitute nominee for Duterte Youth.