MANILA -- The Commission on Elections’ First Division granted petitions seeking the cancellation of the nomination of Ronald Gian Cardema as first nominee of the Duterte Youth Party-List.
The First Division, voting 2-0, ruled that Cardema was ineligible because of age. He was 34 as of election day last May when the law requires youth sector nominees to be from 25 to 30 years old.
"The party cannot really claim that is indeed multi-sectoral when the so called professional sector it claims to represent evidently forms part of the main sector -- the youth sector that Duterte youth clearly stands for," the resolution read.
"With these in mind, this commission finds no reason why the age qualification provided by law for nominees of the youth sector should not be applied to the respondent," it read.
Having been found ineligible, the overage Cardema will not be issued a Certificate of Proclamation by Comelec and, consequently, cannot sit as Member of the House of Representatives.
The ruling was signed by Commissionners Rowena Guanzon and Marlon Casquejo. Guanzon was acting Presiding Commissioner as First Division Chairman Al Parreno is on official business.
"If it were really the intention of Duterte Youth to register as a multi sectoral party for the young professionals, the affidavits it submitted should have also affirmed Duterte youth as a sectoral party for young professionals and asserted compliance with the majority requirement for the young professionals," Guanzon said in a concurring opinion.
One of the petitioners against Cardema, lawyer Emil Marañon III also broke news of the poll body's decision on Twitter.
Duterte Youth’s original nominees included Cardema's wife Ducielle Marie Suarez.
But on May 12, a day before the elections, all 5 nominees of the group filed their notices of withdrawal along with Cardema’s substitution as the party-list nominee.
Cardema said the original nominees withdrew over fear of left-leaning lawmakers.
Before his foray into politics, Cardema served as National Youth Commission chair and declared support for the Duterte administration.
- reports from RG Cruz and Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News