Comelec division rejected Duterte Youth’s registration, only to be reversed by en banc

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 04 2019 11:59 PM | Updated as of Jun 05 2019 12:00 AM

MANILA – A Commission on Elections (Comelec) division originally summarily dismissed the petition for registration filed by the Duterte Youth party-list group due to late submission of certain requirements, a document obtained by ABS-CBN News late Tuesday revealed.

In a two-page dissenting opinion dated January 28, 2019, Comelec Commissioner Luie Tito Guia pointed out that his Second Division had “summarily dismissed” the petition for registration filed by the party-list group, objecting to the Comelec en banc’s decision to reverse the summary dismissal.

“The Commission has been consistent in denying motions for reconsideration relating to the belated submission of required documents. This is to put primacy and value to the deadline of filing petitions for registration, as provided under Resolution No. 10313,” Guia stressed in the document.

“This will likewise give the Commission sufficient latitude in its preparation for the upcoming elections, which includes the printing of ballots,” he explained.

According to Guia, the Duterte Youth party-list group’s belated submissions of required documents in its motion for reconsideration only confirm the deficiencies found by the Commission’s Second Division, although he did not specify which documents were submitted late.

“While it is true that the Commission may liberally apply its rules, said treatment remains to be the exception rather than the rule and must only be made only upon presentation of convincing arguments and proof, which would warrant a different treatment. Here, Petitioner’s alleged ‘unintentional oversight’ fails to persuade in view of the several procedural errors it committed,” he said.

He also cautioned the Comelec en banc against resolving the Duterte Youth group’s petition without the required publication and hearing.

Under section 5 of Republic Act No. 7941 or the Party-List System Act, a group seeking to register under the party-list system should file its petition no later than 90 days before the date of election.

The Comelec will then publish the petition in at least 2 national newspapers of general circulation and resolve the petition within 15 to 60 days but only after due notice and hearing.

“Sec. 5, Republic Act No. 7941, as well as Resolution No. 9366, are clear that the petition must be published in national newspapers of general circulation and may only be resolved after due notice and hearing,” he said.

“This would provide opportunity to interested parties to intervene and aid the Commission in resolving the merits of the petition,” he explained.

Despite Guia’s objection, Comelec en banc proceeded to accept Duterte Youth’s registration.

In contrast, Comelec disqualified AKO OFW party-list group on the basis of wrong choice of words in the petition (“majority” instead of “all” of its members were aware and consented to the filing of the application) and Manggawa party-list after it failed to mention in its application for registration that it is “not an adjunct or a project organized or an entity funded or assisted by the Government.”

Duterte Youth eventually won a seat at the midterm polls, before getting embroiled in another controversy concerning former National Youth Commissioner Ronald Cardema’s bid to substitute his wife and 4 other nominees of the party-list group.

On Tuesday, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez announced on Twitter that the Commission en banc has approved Cardema’s substitution bid with only Commissioner Rowena Guanzon dissenting and Commissioner Guia abstaining.

Guanzon would later correct the media who reported based Jimenez’s tweet that the Comelec has not approved the substitution yet but has only given due course to the application for substitution.

“Not the substitution but his application for substitution was given due course. His substitution is not yet granted because there is a pending petition or opposition on the ground that he is over 30 years old and cannot be a rep of a youth sector party-list,” she said.

Jimenez earlier said 10 disqualification petitions have been filed against Cardema before Comelec.

Guanzon said that a hearing on the disqualification petitions has yet to be set and no Duterte Youth representative can sit in the House of Representatives until the petitions are resolved.