MANILA - Former youth commissioner Ronald Cardema and other nominees of the Duterte Youth Partylist face possible detention over material misrepresentation, an official of the Commission on Elections said.
Cardema, and the other nominees, had allegedly committed the criminal offense when he stated under oath in his certificate of nomination that he is qualified to be a representative of the youth sector, according to Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon.
Under the Party-list System Act, a nominee of the youth sector must not be more than 30 years of age on the day of the election.
Guanzon said the poll body's law department will investigate Cardema for two counts of said violation, the penalty for which is "quite high."
"But even if the penalty were low, even if he says he can be on probation, you can’t be on probation for the second count. You have to go to jail and he will be perpetually disqualified from holding public office," Guanzon told ANC's Early Edition.
The same penalty will be imposed to the partylist's other nominees, she said.
"We are not a marketplace. We are an institution that is empowered under the constitution to promote and preserve our democracy. We cannot tolerate lies and false testimonies," Guanzon said.
Youth group Millennials PH on Wednesday said it would seek to cancel the partylist's registration over alleged election crimes.
Another ground for the partylist's disqualification could be "espousing violence," Guanzon said, citing threats against her and her family from Cardema.
"They have no respect at all, including sending me threats through text messages. Cardema says he is not responsible for those but up to now he has not denied it," she said.
Partylist system reforms
Guanzon said she would like the Comelec to be stricter in implementing the poll body's rules to avoid bastardization of the partylist system.
The commissioner proposed that a partylist applying for registration using a person's name, such as Duterte Youth, must get the consent of the person under oath.
"If you’re disqualified you can’t sit plus there is material misrepresentation. They will go to jail but I want a higher penalty and I want the President to also be included in the indictment even if he is not the nominee," she said.
Partylist groups should be active for at least a year before the elections and they should required to submit the list of their members and their data, Guanzon said.
The commissioner also said a 2013 Supreme Court ruling stating that the party-list system was not limited to marginalized sectors "does not repeal" the Partylist Act.
"Their argument is that it’s up to us who we'll allow to represent us. Yes but not if it will result in absurdity," she said.
"For example, you mean to say a women’s sector partylist can be represented by a man? That’s absurd."