Comelec's Guanzon opposes 'unconstitutional' decision to proclaim Duterte Youth rep

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 10 2020 05:03 AM

Commissioner Rowena Guanzon talks to the media after a hearing with Ronald Cardema explaining his notice of withdrawal as Duterte Youth Partylist nominee at the COMELEC headquarters in Manila on September 25, 2019. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA - Commission on Elections (Comelec) commissioner Rowena Guanzon has criticized her colleagues' decision to grant a certificate of proclamation to Duterte Youth Party-list group and its nominee Ducielle Cardema.

Ducielle, wife of former National Youth Commission chair Ronald Cardema, is set to occupy a House seat after Comelec granted her party a certificate of proclamation despite its supposed failure to complete the registration process.

Guanzon, who opposed Ronald's nomination as party-list representative for the youth because of his age, said in her dissenting opinion to Comelec that the party-list's petition to register had not yet been granted in time for the May 13, 2019 elections and had not in fact been published nor publicly heard.

The publication requirement under Republic Act No. 7941 or the Party-List System Act and Comelec Resolution No. 9366, she explained, is jurisdictional and mandatory under the Constitution.

Under section 5 of 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.

"The publication of the petition is a veritable notice to the whole world of the party's intent to participate in the party-list system or representation," Guanzon stressed.

"The publication requirement also serves as an added mechanism to safeguard the the system against incursions by unscrupulous groups who seek registration but are nevertheless ineligible to run under the party-list system or representation," she added.

The commissioner argued there are also 2 pending cases against the Duterte Youth Party-list and Cardema, who allegedly "advocated violence or unlawful means to seek Duterte Youth's Goal; and violated and failed to comply with election laws, rules and regulations."

"In the interest of orderly administration of justice, the Commission En Banc must await the final resolution of the said petitions before acting on the request to issue the Certificate of Proclamation," Guanzon said.

Comelec chairman Sheriff Abas said in September four of five commissioners of the poll body have signed the certificate of proclamation. 

Guanzon, one of the commissioners, however has refused to vote for Duterte Youth Party-list's proclamation, calling it an act that will render Comelec's earlier ruling on Cardema's disqualification pointless, leading to the commission being "inutile" or useless.

"This the Commission cannot do if it is to remain faithful to its sworn duty under the Constitution. As the constitutional organ entrusted with the gargantuan task to enforce and implement election laws and rules, this Commission bears the sacred burden of ensuring that only those who are duly elected--qualified and eligible according to the terms of the Constitution and the laws--can truly hold power and assume office. It cannot defeat this mandate by deliberately rendering moot the threshold issues before it," she emphasized.

"I cannot shirk from my duty to the Constitution. I cannot abide by any waiver of a constitutional requirement and the law for the sake of expediency. A vote to grant a Certificate of Proclamation is a betrayal of the Constitution and the duty imposed upon us as constitutional commissioners."

Last month, Northern Samar 1st District Rep. Paul Daza threatened to defer Comelec's budget unless the poll chief assured the lawmakers that Duterte Youth will be allowed to sit in Congress soon.

Abas declined but Presiding Officer David Suarez intervened to stop Daza from moving for the deferment, stressing the need to begin plenary deliberations on the 2021 budget next week. 

Suarez assured Daza he would work with Comelec to get Daza's concerns addressed before Comelec's budget hits the plenary session of the House.

A group of election lawyers who had opposed the proclamation of the representative of the Duterte Youth Party List denounced the Comelec's decision to grant a certificate of proclamation to Cardema.

A lawyer said several groups would question before the Supreme Court the impending proclamation of the Duterte Youth Party-list group.