MANILA - If Duterte Youth fails to win its appeal on its nomination before the Commission on Elections (Comelec), they don't get a seat in the House of Representatives, election commissioner Rowena Guanzon said Friday.
"They don't lose it because they never had it. They don't get a seat. You cannot force the Commission on Elections to give you a seat even if you fooled 175,000 young people to vote for you," Guanzon.
In an interview on ANC's Headstart, Guazon explained that Ronald Cardema substituted his wife on May 12, the eve of the elections, as the party-list group's first nominee.
The Comelec later disqualified Cardema on account of his age; he is 34, and the law says youth representatives should be 25 to 30 years old.
The group later renominated Cardema, and the former youth commissioner came out days later accusing Guanzon of demanding cash and favors.
"What do you want to do, substitute again? How is it there's no deadline for party-list and the congressmen and congresswomen, they can only be substituted at a certain time in case of death, incapacity... This guy, whatever he does, he will never be congressman or representative of a youth sector," she said.
Cardema's appeal to his disqualification is now with the Comelec en banc, Guanzon said. She, however, said it would be hard to reverse a decision of a division.
"He appealed but he submitted another list and it's still him as No. 1 nominee. How many times that he has to be told that he's overaged, he's disqualified?" she said.
Guanzon added that she already told the Comelec's law department to investigate Cardema and the other overaged nominees for material misrepresentation as an election offense.
"Because under oath they said they are not overaged, they are qualified," she said.
She said he could face jail time if found guilty.
"He submitted another list after he filed an appeal so he has two counts of material misrepresentation," she said.
In his motion, Cardema denied committing “material misrepresentation” in his nomination, saying his group’s registration was not limited to the youth sector but also included young professionals.
"They registered as a youth sector, why are they saying now that they're young professionals?" she said.
She urged the group to abide by the law.
"You follow the law instead of pressuring us to twist the law in your favor. What do you think of us, stupid?" she said.