MANILA -- The supposed fear of left-leaning groups is "irrelevant" to the plea of former National Youth Commissioner (NYC) Ronald Cardema to replace the nominees of the Duterte Youth party-list group, an outgoing lawmaker said Tuesday.
Cardema last week said all 5 Duterte Youth nominees, including his wife, backed out of the party-list nomination because they grew nervous of engaging with the left.
"That's an irrelevant issue to the main issue of how could he become the representative of Duterte Youth dahil nga (because) during the 90-day campaign, he was still an official of government," said Akbayan Party-list Rep. Tom Villarin.
"Ang isang implication d'yan of course, ginamit mo ang opisina mo (you used your office) to campaign and that's an electoral offense," he told ANC.
The nominees were also "duty-bound to serve" when they filed their candidacy and should still do so if they are not incapacitated, he said.
Cardema's substitution plea was filed on the eve of the May 13 polls.
Under the law, he is also 3 years over the age limit of 30 for those who want to represent the youth sector, as provided under the Party-list System Act.
Cardema said he did not use NYC funds to campaign for the Duterte Youth party. He also said he can promote the group because he was a political appointee, not an elected official.
The Commission on Elections "should have made stringent measures" to prevent the withdrawal of the party-list's nominees, but it had been "very lax," said Villarin.
EVOLVING PARTY-LIST TERRAIN
Akbayan, for the first time since 1988, failed to get a seat in the party-list race topped by group ACT-CIS, whose second nominee Jocelyn Tulfo is a sister-in-law of President Rodrigo Duterte's special envoy to China Ramon Tulfo.
Sixteen incumbent groups lost while 21 neophyte party-list groups won, including those fielded by political clans, said Villarin.
The party-list terrain, he said, has "drastically" changed since the Supreme Court in 2013 junked a provision that party-list groups should exclusively represent marginalized sectors.
Akbayan faced tight competition in its bailiwicks in Metro Manila, Calabarzon, Central Luzon, Central Visayas and Northern Mindanao, where political clans fielded their own party-lists, said Villarin.
"Many" party-lists in the top 10 also released political ads in the run-up to the elections, he said.
"In the future, it would really be about the air[waves] war. With so many party-lists, you need to have a top-of-mind campaign," he said.