MANILA - Duterte Youth Representative Ronald Cardema has asked the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to set aside his disqualification, insisting he can still represent the youth sector in Congress despite going beyond the age limit of 30.
Cardema, 34, argued that he could sit as Duterte Youth party-list congressman because of his “track record of advocacy for the youth sector,” citing a highly criticized Supreme Court ruling in 2013.
That decision said the party-list system was not limited to marginalized sectors.
“To limit youth sector representation to persons falling under the definition of ‘youth’ is not only contrary to law but would likewise result in absurd consequences,” Cardema said in his motion for reconsideration filed Tuesday.
Party-list nominees seeking to represent the youth sector should be between 25 and 30 years old, prompting the Comelec’s first division to disqualify Cardema last Aug. 5.
The Comelec en banc has yet to rule on the motion for reconsideration.
But Cardema’s group, which won a seat in the 18th Congress, again placed him as the top nominee in a new list submitted the following day.
Commissioner Rowena Guanzon said the submission could be “construed to mean that he has given up on his motion for reconsideration.”
Cardema said his group was representing both the youth sector and “young professionals” and he was not bound by the age restriction.
He said the decision to pick him as a congressman for young professionals was “internal” to his party.
But Guanzon, citing a Supreme Court ruling, said multi-sectoral parties still had to comply with the age requirement if they also represented the youth.
“They cannot win that argument,” she told ABS-CBN News. “It’s an open-and-shut case. He is overaged.”
Cardema’s motion assailed a provision of the party-list law itself, which set the age limit for youth sector representatives.
The law, he said, could not add another qualification for House members, whose minimum age requirement is 25.
Cardema also questioned the jurisdiction of the Comelec over his case, noting that his group had been proclaimed a winner in the May 13 party-list election.
“Whether a nominee is qualified or not is inconsequential,” he said, insisting the issue should now be resolved before the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal.
Guanzon said Cardema should have raised the issue of jurisdiction at the “earliest opportunity” and “it’s too late for that now.”
Cardema cannot sit in Congress without a certificate of nomination from the Comelec, she said.