Comelec’s credibility on the line
The controversy revolves around Ronald Cardema, whose only claim to fame was to face down an outspoken critic of the Duterte administration in 2018. For this act of “bravery,” the leader of the Duterte Youth was made the chairman of the National Youth Commission. In his short stint there, the NYC managed to gain the attention of the Commission on Audit, which asked the agency to refund the national government more than P800,000 that were paid out as monetized leave credits and travel expenses. With an eye on higher office, Cardema resigned as NYC chairman to represent the Duterte Youth party-list group in the mid-term elections, filling in as a “substitute” for his wife. Over the protests from several groups, the Comelec on June 4 approved Cardema's last-minute bid to become the party-list group's nominee in the 2019 elections, with five commissioners voting in favor of the petition, one dissenting and one abstaining. Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon, the lone dissenter, said the poll body will still need to rule on Cardema’s qualification, which is a separate matter. Oddly enough, it is on this very question that groups had argued against Cardema, 33, saying he violated the Party-List System Act as he was over age limit of 30 to become a party-list nominee for the youth sector.