MANILA (UPDATE) - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Tuesday said it accepted the Duterte Youth Party-list’s petition to name former youth commissioner Ronald Cardema as one of its nominees in the House of Representatives.
"The substitution of Ronald Cardema as Duterte Youth nominee has been approved, with one Commissioner dissenting and one abstention," Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said.
Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon, however, clarified that it was only Cardema's application for substitution that was given "due course.
"His substitution is not yet granted because there is a pending petition or opposition on the ground that he us over 30 yrs old and cannot be a rep of a youth sector party list," Guanzon added.
The withdrawal documents submitted by the Duterte Youth's first 5 nominees were "in compliance" with existing party-list laws, the poll body said in its Resolution No. 10529.
Comelec chief sheriff Abas and commissioners Al Parreño,Socorro Inting, Marlon Casquejo, and Antonio Kho Jr. approved Cardema's substitution bid, while Guanzon was the lone dissenter.
"By their own admission and declaration, they are more than 30 years of age on election day... Their ineligibilities are beyond dispute," Guanzon said in her dissenting opinion.
Comelec Commissioner Luie Tito Guia abstained from voting as he earlier thumbed down the accreditation of the Duterte Youth as a party-list.
"I abstained to be consistent with my earlier vote to deny the accreditation," Guia said in a note written above his signature.
The party’s first 5 nominees, including Cardema's wife Ducielle, filed their notices of withdrawal on May 12 or a day before the elections. Cardema sought the substitution on the same day.
REASONS FOR WITHDRAWAL OF CANDIDACY
Cardema's wife withdrew because she could "no longer fulfill the expectations set forth by the party," the same Comelec resolution showed.
The party-list's second nominee Joseph De Guzman said he wanted to support the group's cause "away from public opinion," while third nominee Benilda De Guzman withdrew her candidacy to pursue her "passion for teaching."
Other original nominees Arnaldo Villafranca and Elizabeth Anne Cardema said they backed out as nominees to enjoy "privacy" and "fulfill" their obligations with their respective families.
Before the resolution was released, Cardema's bid faced 10 oppositions.
Despite this, Cardema was present at the proclamation of winning party-list groups on May 22. He was known to have also attended a meeting of sectoral representatives earlier that week and added "incoming congressman" to his personal information on his Facebook page.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson earlier slammed Cardema’s move to take the youth representative's seat.
Cardema and his party-list are "just two of many reasons why the party-list system has become a joke," Lacson said in a tweet.
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo distanced the executive branch from the issue.
"We do not intrude nor interfere into the proceedings of any branch of the government or any constitutional body," he told Palace reporters.
Prior to Cardema's foray in Congress, he served as National Youth Commission chair and declared support for the Duterte administration.